STC Number - 331

EU limits of aluminum in flour products

Maintained by: European Union
Raised by: China
Supported by:
First date raised: March 2012 G/SPS/R/66, paras. 26-27
Dates subsequently raised:
Number of times subsequently raised: 0
Relevant documents: G/SPS/N/EEC/341
Products covered:
Primary subject keyword: Food safety
Keywords: Control, Inspection and Approval Procedures; Food safety; Human health
Status: Not reported
Date reported as resolved:

Extracts from SPS Committee meeting summary reports

In March 2012, China expressed concerns about EU limits on aluminium content in flour products (EC669/2009 and EC887/2010), and excessive testing. The strict requirement by the European Union had impacted China's exports of flour products. The current EU standard based on a 2008 EFSA recommendation set out a maximum aluminium content of 10 mg/kg, so as to ensure that the weekly intake of aluminium was below 1 mg/kg of body weight. However, in 2011, JECFA changed this weekly intake of aluminium to 2 mg/kg of body weight. China urged the European Union to reassess the limits for aluminium content in flour products on the basis of the new data from JECFA, as unnecessary restrictions on international trade, on the premise of safety grounds, should be avoided.
The European Union highlighted the health risks of aluminium, whose use as a food additive had been prohibited based on the 2008 EFSA opinion. A low tolerance had been established for naturally occurring aluminium in flour. When the level of aluminium detected in food exceeds 10 mg/kg, it is a clear indication that a food additive containing aluminium has been used. In 2011, there were 35 notifications in the EU rapid alert system for food and feed (RASSF) on high levels of aluminium in noodles from China, with levels up to 50 mg/kg. Since October 2010, dried noodles from China had been subjected to an increased control frequency of 10%, which would continue until there was a clear indication that Chinese noodle manufacturers were no longer using additives containing aluminium.