Cadmium Limits in Chocolate Presented at Codex Meeting

A Codex committee has recommended new maximum levels (MLs) for cadmium in chocolate.

The levels set for cadmium are 0.3 milligrams per kilogram (mg / kg) for chocolate containing up to 30 percent total cocoa solids and 0.7 mg / kg for the 30-50 grade for hundred.

The European Union, Norway and Egypt disagreed with the advanced 0.3 mg / kg levels and these three countries plus Switzerland did not support the 0.7 mg / kg levels .

Instead of 0.3 mg / kg, all three countries wanted a level of 0.1 mg / kg. In the other category, a lower ML of 0.3 mg / kg has been proposed to protect consumers, especially children. Supporters of the set levels said they would protect public health while promoting trade and discussions had been underway since 2013.

Stricter European rules
The maximum authorized levels of cadmium in the EU are 0.1 mg / kg for milk chocolate containing less than 30 percent cocoa in total solids and 0.3 mg / kg for chocolate between 30 and 50 percent. Colombia; Ivory Coast; Ecuador; Madagascar and Peru first raised concerns about these limits in 2017 at a meeting of the World Trade Organization.

An exposure assessment by the Joint FAO / WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) to cadmium in all food sources revealed that the heavy metal in cocoa is not a significant source of exposure in cocoa. human food on a global scale. However, for children primarily from European countries that only consume South American sources of cocoa, these products are a greater source of exposure to cadmium.

The decision on maximum levels for cocoa powder containing 100 percent total cocoa solids has been delayed for a year to obtain more data. Work continues on a code of practice for the prevention and reduction of cadmium in cocoa beans.

The proposals of the Codex Committee on Contaminants in Foods will be considered at the meeting of the Codex Alimentarius Commission in November of this year.

“The adoption by Codex of maximum levels for cadmium in chocolate products is a step forward towards common global standards, based on scientific risk assessment and global data from producing regions. A single standard means simplicity for global compliance, enabling international trade. In addition, basing standards on global data helps prevent unnecessary food waste, ”said Martin Slayne of the International Confectionery Association, a Codex observer.

Discussion of methylmercury and lead
Virtual meeting attendees supported setting maximum lead levels for dried spices and culinary herbs, but discussions were postponed for a year to allow for more data. Work on limits for eggs, cereal-based infant foods and ready meals is also underway.

The committee agreed not to set a maximum level for lead in herbal teas for infants and young children, yogurt, cheese and milk-based products. He also supported a revised code of practice to reduce lead in foods for adoption at the Codex meeting in November.

Lauren Robin, US delegation, said the code of practice was an important achievement.

“The code will help governments and industry follow best practices and support work on lead MLs. It includes new information on topics such as filter aids for beverages and farm protection against lead, ”she said.

It was agreed to start new work on MLs for Methylmercury in orange roughy and pink tusk. More data was needed on Patagonian toothfish as experts also consider developing guidelines to manage methylmercury in fish.

Mycotoxin and other problems
Discussions by 400 delegates continued on maximum levels for total aflatoxins in cereals and cereal-based products, including foods for infants and young children. Proposals for limits for total aflatoxins in ready-to-eat peanuts will be considered by the committee in 2022.

Work on a code of practice to prevent and reduce mycotoxin contamination in cassava and cassava products will begin if approved by the Codex meeting in November. Discussions on creating limits for hydrocyanic cyanide in cassava and cassava products have been halted until more data becomes available.

Other areas mentioned during the five-day meeting included a discussion paper on pyrrolizidine alkaloids, possible follow-up work on poisoning by ciguatera and tropanic alkaloids, and seeking advice from the Commission of Codex Alimentarius on how to approach the safety of edible insects.

Steve Wearne, Vice-President of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, said lack of proper food safety controls causes millions of foodborne illnesses and thousands of deaths per year.

“While attention is often drawn to acute illnesses caused by foodborne pathogens, the often chronic illness caused by contaminants in food is no less real. It remains essential that we focus on developing and disseminating Codex standards that ensure food safety and quality for everyone, everywhere, ”he said.

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