The European Commission has tightened checks on black pepper from Brazil because of Salmonella and peanuts from India because of aflatoxins.

These and other products entering the European Union from non-EU countries are now subject to a temporary increase of official controls. Revised legislation has also seen some checks become less strict.

The basis of the changes is the occurrence of incidents reported through the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) and information from official controls performed by member states on food and feed of non-animal origin.

Tighter controls
The frequency of identity and physical checks on black pepper from Brazil has been increased from 20 percent to 50 percent. This is because of the large amount of non-compliances with EU requirements for Salmonella contamination detected during official controls in 2019 and early 2020 and the high number of reports in the RASFF during that period.

This year there have been 28 RASFF reports of Salmonella in black pepper from Brazil with most reported by Germany. Serotypes include Rubislaw, Infantis, Saintpaul, Coeln, Matadi, Gaminara, and Javiana.

The frequency of identity and physical checks on peanuts, also known as groundnuts, from India because of aflatoxins has also gone up from 10 percent to 50 percent. Checks on peppers of the Capsicum species, other than sweet, for pesticide residues from Thailand will rise from 10 percent to 20 percent.

Sweet peppers from Turkey are already listed in the regulation because of the risk of contamination by pesticide residues but this has been amended to cover all peppers of the Capsicum species.

Reduced measures
Checks on goji berries from China because of pesticide residues and dried grapes from Turkey because of Ochratoxin A have been relaxed because of improved compliance in the second half of 2019 and first quarter of 2020.

For peanuts from Brazil, the rate of identity and physical checks has been set at 10 percent because of the risk of contamination by aflatoxins. The frequency of non-compliance with EU rules during official controls decreased in the second semester of 2019 and remained at low levels in the first few months of 2020. Controls of this product from China because of the same issue are also at 10 percent.

The frequency of identity and physical checks for hazelnuts from Turkey because of aflatoxins has been reduced to 5 percent.

Foodstuffs containing betel leaves originating in, or being sent from, Bangladesh have been banned since June 2014 because of Salmonella contamination. However, the European Commission approved an action plan submitted by Bangladesh in July 2020 covering all steps of the production chain. The frequency of identity and physical checks will be set at 50 percent.

Foodstuffs consisting of dried beans from Nigeria remain suspended because of pesticide residue concerns. Peanuts and pistachios from the United States are being checked for aflatoxins at a rate of 10 percent.

Other products still subject to a temporary increase in controls include peanuts from Bolivia because of aflatoxins with checks at a frequency of 50 percent; sweet peppers from China because of Salmonella at a rate of 20 percent; sesame seeds from Ethiopia because of Salmonella at 50 percent; palm oil from Ghana because of Sudan dyes at 50 percent and turnips from Lebanon because of Rhodamine B at a frequency of 50 percent.

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