Contaminants in Food

​​Codex Committee on Contaminants in Foods
(Host Government - Netherlands)

The Codex Committee on Contaminants in Food (CCCF) establishes and endorses permitted maximum levels or guideline levels for contaminants and naturally occurring toxicants in food and feed.

It also prepares priority lists of contaminants and naturally occurring toxicants for risk assessment by the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives.

The CCCF considers methods of analysis and sampling for the determination of contaminants and naturally occurring toxicants in food and feed and develops and elaborates standards or codes of practice for related subjects. It also considers other matters assigned to it by the Commission in relation to contaminants and naturally occurring toxicants in food and feed.

Existing Codex Standards

The 'General Standard for Contaminants and Toxins in Foods' - relating to contaminants in food* - has been endorsed and adopted into the international food code.
For a full list of standards approved by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, please consult its Official List of Standards.

Last Meeting

The 10th Session of the Codex Committee on Contaminants in Foods was held in Rotterdam, The Netherlands from 4-8 April 2016.

Matters for Adoption/Consideration by the 39th Session of the Commission

The Committee agreed to forward:

  • maximum levels for inorganic arsenic in husked rice at Step 8 (para. 45, Appendix II);
  • maximum levels for lead in fruit juices and nectars, ready-to-drink (inclusion of passion fruit); canned fruits (inclusion of canned berries and other small fruits); canned vegetables (inclusion of canned leafy vegetables and canned legume vegetables); jams, jellies and marmalades (lower ML and inclusion of marmalades); pickled cucumbers (lower ML); preserved tomatoes (lower ML and note on the application of a concentration factor); and tables olives (lower ML) at Steps 5/8 (para. 89, Appendix III);
  • revised Code of Practice for the Prevention and Reduction of Mycotoxin Contamination in Cereals (CAC/RCP 51-2003) (general provisions) and its annexes on zearalenone, fumonisins, ochratoxin A, trichothecenes and aflatoxins, at Steps 8 and 5/8 (specific provisions) (paras. 124 and 128, Appendix IV).

Revocation of Standards

The Committee agreed to recommend the revocation of maximum levels in the General Standard for Contaminants and Toxins in Food and Feed (CODEX STAN 193-1995) as follows: canned raspberries; canned strawberries; canned green beans and canned wax beans; canned green peas; jams (fruit preserves) and jellies; pickled cucumbers; preserved tomatoes; and table olives; and to delete the note on the adjustment of the ML for preserved tomatoes to take into account the concentration of the products (para. 90, Appendix III).

Matters of interest to the Commission

The Committee:

  • noted matters referred to the Committee by the Commission and its subsidiary bodies and provided replies when appropriate in particular as to its work management (para 6);
  • agreed to continue to work on outstanding issues related to the review of MLs for lead in fruits and vegetables (fresh and processed) and other selected food categories in the GSCTFF (para 85);
  • agreed to return maximum levels for cadmium in chocolate and cocoa-derived products for further revision, comments and consideration at its next session (para. 119);
  • agreed to return the annexes of the Code of Practice for the Prevention and Reduction of Arsenic Contamination in Rice (para. 100); and the Code of Practice for the Prevention and Reduction of Mycotoxins in Spices and its annexes (para. 137) for further development, comments and consideration at its next session;
  • agreed to request comments on the Annex on Ergot and Ergot Alkaloids in Cereals Grains to the Code of Practice for the Prevention and Reduction of Mycotoxin Contamination in Cereals (CAC/RCP 51-2003) for consideration at its next session (para. 142, Appendix V);
  • agreed to further consider the development of maximum levels for mycotoxins in spices including further prioritisation of work and clarification as to the mycotoxin(s)/spice(s) combination for which MLs should be established (para. 148);
  • agreed to further consider the development of maximum levels for methylmercury in tuna (fresh/frozen and canned) and in other fish species (para. 161);endorsed the Priority list of contaminants and naturally occurring toxicants for JECFA evaluation (para. 171, Appendix VI); and
  • agreed to consider a discussion paper on the possible inclusion of non-dioxin like PCBs in the Code of Practice for the Prevention and Reduction of Dioxin and Dioxin-like PCB Contamination in Food and Feeds (CAC/RCP 62-2006); the proposed draft MLs for total aflaxtoxins in ready-to-eat peanuts (held at Step 4); and the follow up on JECFA evaluation on PAs (para. 173).

Matters referred to Codex Committees and other Subsidiary Bodies

Codex Committee on Spices and Culinary Herbs (CCSCH)

The Committee agreed to inform CCSCH that the ML or GL in the GSCTFF for leafy vegetables are not applicable to spices and culinary herbs (para. 10).

Next Meeting

The 11th Session of the Committee was tentatively scheduled to be held in Brazil in approximately one year’s time.