The European Commission has relaxed checks on melons from Honduras but added controls for vanilla extract from the United States.

Changes were made as part of updated legislation on the rate of official controls and emergency measures for food of non-animal origin imported into Europe. Rules are modified every six months.

Decisions are based on notifications made in the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) portal and information from documentary, identity and physical checks by member states in the first part of 2022.

Requirements for checks on 10 percent of Galia melons from Honduras, put in place in January 2022 after a multi-country Salmonella Braenderup outbreak, have been removed. In 2021, 350 people fell sick, mostly in the UK but there were four cases in the United States and two in Canada.

Ethylene oxide and food dyes
Consignments of vanilla extract from the United States will need to be accompanied by an official certificate stating that results of sampling show compliance with EU rules on maximum residue levels for ethylene oxide. Shipments dispatched before mid-February can enter the EU until April 16 without this certificate. However, they will be subject to checks at a frequency of 20 percent. 

Other ethylene oxide-related changes include food supplements containing botanicals from South Korea, locust bean products from Morocco and Malaysia, tomato ketchup and other tomato sauces from Mexico and calcium carbonate from India.

Betel leaves from India have had an increased level of official controls and special conditions because of the risk of Salmonella contamination since January 2019. However, they have not been imported into the EU for three years so this has been modified to checks on 30 percent of shipments.

Sesame seeds from Nigeria have been subject to a higher level of controls because of Salmonella since July 2017. Half of consignments will now need to be checked and include an official certificate showing compliance with EU laws. Possible Salmonella contamination means sesame seeds from Türkiye will be checked at a frequency of 20 percent.

Increased controls on turnips from Lebanon have been in place since July 2018 because of the risk of contamination by Rhodamine B, which is a dye that should not be used in food. The rate of checks is at 50 percent and batches will need to include an official certificate showing compliance with EU rules. However, tighter checks on turnips from Syria due to Rhodamine B have been removed.

Controls on palm oil from Côte d’Ivoire for Sudan dyes have been set at a frequency of 20 percent. These dyes are used to color non-food products and are not permitted in food in the EU.

Mycotoxin modifications
There is no change to the 20 percent frequency of checks on peanuts, peanut butter and peanut paste for aflatoxins from the United States.

Groundnut, also known as peanut, products from Argentina have been checked at a higher frequency for aflatoxins since October 2019 but better compliance has resulted in this measure being removed.

A high rate of non-compliance means groundnut products from Bolivia will need an official certificate showing results of compliance with EU rules and will be checked at a frequency of 50 percent.

Brazil nuts from Brazil no longer need an official certificate showing compliance but will be checked at a rate of 50 percent for aflatoxin.

The frequency of checks on rice from Pakistan for aflatoxin and Ochratoxin A has been increased to 10 percent. Controls on some peppers from India due to aflatoxin have been reduced to 10 percent.

Dried fig products from Türkiye will be assessed for aflatoxin at a frequency of 30 percent. Contamination by pyrrolizidine alkaloids means cumin seeds and dried oregano from Türkiye will have to be checked at a level of 20 percent.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)