Increased safety checks on fruit, vegetables, herbs, spices, nuts and seeds from non-EU countries are working to protect the health of European consumers, according to a new report from the European Commission.
Several high-risk non-animal commodities have been subject to increased checks since the introduction of regulation in 2009, in addition to routine import controls. Items recently added to the list include Chinese broccoli, which is now tested for pesticide residues, and Indonesian nutmeg and mace, for possible aflatoxin contamination.
In 2012, more than 71,000 shipments of non-animal derived foods were subject to the heightened safety checks, of which more than 10,000 samples were sent for laboratory testing. Of those, about 7% were found to be in breach of European food safety standards.
Products that are judged to no longer cause concern are delisted, meaning that they are only subject to routine checks. This year, delisted products included Peruvian capsicum – previously of concern for possible aflatoxins – Indian feed additives, which had previously been contaminated with lead, and chilli products from several countries, which were previously a source of Sudan dye concerns .
In addition, the Commission adopted specific conditions for importing groundnuts from Ghana and India, okra and curry leaves from India, and watermelon seeds from Nigeria, after European authorities reported very high non-compliance levels and no significant improvement since official controls were strengthened.
The full report is available to download here (pdf).