STC Number - 458

EU regulatory process for determining maximum levels of glycidyl fatty acid esters, 3-monochloropropanediol (3-MCPD) and its fatty acid esters, in foods or food ingredients

Maintained by: European Union
Raised by: Colombia
Supported by: Costa Rica; Côte d'Ivoire; Ecuador; Guatemala; Honduras; Malaysia
First date raised: July 2019 G/SPS/R/95, paras. 4.16-4.18
Dates subsequently raised:
Number of times subsequently raised: 0
Relevant documents: G/SPS/GEN/1708
Products covered: 12 Oil seeds and oleaginous fruits; miscellaneous grains, seeds and fruit; industrial or medicinal plants; straw and fodder

Palm oil
Primary subject keyword: Food safety
Keywords: Food safety; Human health; Risk assessment; International Standards / Harmonization
Status: Not reported
Date reported as resolved:

Extracts from SPS Committee meeting summary reports

In July 2019, Colombia raised the concern, as detailed in document G/SPS/GEN/1708. Colombia drew Members attention to the draft regulation's proposed maximum level for palm oil of 2,500 μg/kg in food or food ingredients, which differed from the lower limit of 1,250 μg/kg proposed for other oils produced in Europe, including sunflower, colza, coconut and other oils. Although the European Union had not yet notified the measure for comments, it was being raised at an early stage given its possible implications on the international palm oil market. Colombia noted that if the regulatory process was based on health reasons, it could look to the ongoing work on a risk management measure under the Codex Alimentarius, through the development of a Code of Good Practice to reduce contaminants in refined oils and refined oil products, including palm oil. Colombia encouraged supporting the work of Codex and promoting the adoption of good practices to jointly contribute to the prevention of the risk associated with this food contaminant.

Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras and Malaysia expressed their interest in the matter and would continue monitoring its development. Guatemala also looked forward to receiving information from the European Union on the issue; and Ecuador highlighted the large number of palm oil producers who were small producers, and the socioeconomic impact the proposed measure would have on them.

The European Union clarified its proposed regulatory process maximum levels were based on the oils themselves, not on where they were produced, and that this was a trade facilitating measure. The European Union shared with Members EFSA's scientific opinion of May 2016 on the risks to public health of the presence of monochloropropanediol and its fatty acid esters, which concluded that their presence in vegetable oil was of concern. This was particularly the case for vegetable oil used in the production of infant formula. Following that divergent opinion of the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives and Contaminants (JECFA), EFSA decided to review its opinion and updated it in 2018 based on the tolerable daily intake (TDI). Discussions regarding appropriate regulatory measures were ongoing in the European Union. Draft measures would be notified under the SPS Agreement during the month of August or September, and WTO Members' comments would be taken into account in finalizing a proposal. Finally, the European Union asked other palm-oil producing Members to confirm whether Colombia's suggestion for 1,250 μg/kg was achievable.