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Health assessment of residues in foods

Collage mit verschiedenen Obst- und Gemüsesorten

Foods may be rendered impure by residues or contaminants. Residues are the remains of substances which are intentionally used during the production of foods. They include, for instance, plant protection products and veterinary medicinal products.

Maximum levels are laid down for residues in the Maximum Levels of Residues Ordinance. Theses values are not based on medical or toxicological considerations but are oriented towards "good agricultural practice" as well as legal, social and political requirements. It is obvious that harmful values must not be exceeded in conjunction with maximum residue levels.

Contaminants are impurities with substances which are not used intentionally but which reach foods unintentionally. They may come from the environment or processing (e.g. nitrosamines in beer, dioxins and nitrosamines in smoked foods or grilled meat). Contaminants from the environment may be of natural original (mycotoxins in cereals or fruit juices) or have reached the environment as a consequence of human activity (PCBs, dioxins, heavy metals etc). The fundamental requirement of consumer health protection is to keep contaminants as far as possible to a minimum (minimisation requirement). However, the consumer can further reduce his uptake of residues and contaminants through his own behaviour (cf. document "Tips for Consumers").

Limit values or maximum levels create binding regulations concerning the contamination of foods with residues or contaminants.

Maximum levels - Limit values - Intervention values - Guidance values: How are they laid down?

Maximum levels, limit values, intervention values or guidance values are all conventions. That means that they are not solely based on toxicological considerations. The toxicological assessment of a substance does, however, constitute the external framework within which values of this kind are laid down for consumer health protection.

Food monitoring and the Residue Monitoring Plan provide an overview of the contamination of foods with residues and contaminants in Germany (external links see below).

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Information

 (3)
Date Title Size
23.03.2011
BfR Information Nr. 011/2011
Breast milk: Dioxin concentrations decrease continually 28.8 KB
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15.02.2010
BfR Information Nr. 019/2010
Residues of veterinary medicinal products in foods of plant origin 30.5 KB
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18.03.2009
BfR Information No. 006/2009 concerning a study by the University Frankfurt am Main
Substances with hormone-like activity in mineral water from PET bottles 67.7 KB
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Opinion

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Date Title Size
01.10.2015
BfR Opinion No. 035/2015
Results of the National Residue Control Plan and Import Control Plan for 2013 confirm a high level of safety with foods of animal origin 63.8 KB
PDF-File
11.03.2014
BfR Opinion No. 014/2014
New EU maximum levels for dioxins, dioxin-like PCBs and non-dioxin-like PCBs in livers of terrestrial animals and in sheep liver 108.4 KB
PDF-File
10.09.2013
BfR Opinion No. 022/2013
Health assessment of perchlorate residues in foods 95.1 KB
PDF-File
09.07.2013
Updated BfR Opinion No. 027/2013
EU proposal for maximum perchlorate concentrations in foods is inadequate 100.0 KB
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06.06.2013
BfR Opinion No. 015/2013
BfR recommendations on how to perform the consumer risk assessment for perchlorate residues in food 41.3 KB
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09.07.2012
BfR Opinion Nr. 027/2012
Health assessment of didecyldimethylammonium chloride (DDAC) residues in food 154.2 KB
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01.06.2012
BfR Opinion Nr. 026/2012
Reconsideration of the human toxicological reference values (ARfD, ADI) for chlorpyrifos 70.2 KB
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10.04.2012
BfR Opinion Nr. 011/2012
Risk assessment of high DL-PCB levels in hen’s eggs 25.6 KB
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29.11.2011
BfR Opinion No. 017/2012
Assessment of the results of the National Residue Monitoring Plan 2010 and the Import Monitoring Plan 2010 48.9 KB
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02.11.2011
BfR Opinion Nr. 051/2011
Residue of pharmacologically active substances in plant-based food 28.7 KB
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16.05.2011
BfR Opinion Nr. 048/2011
Dioxin and PCB contents in game meat do not pose a health risk 30.7 KB
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02.02.2011
BfR Opinion Nr. 007/2011
BfR assesses analyses of substances with hormone-like activity in natural mineral waters 28.1 KB
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26.01.2011
BfR Opinion Nr. 002/2011
Consumption of eggs and meat poses no risk to human health as indicated by the latest dioxin concentrations measured 85.3 KB
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19.01.2011
BfR Opinion Nr. 001/2011
Health assessment of ethephon residues in bell peppers 27.9 KB
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06.08.2010
BfR Opinion Nr. 038/2010
Fresh meat packaged under a protective atmosphere with high oxygen content does not constitute a health hazard for the consumer 28.8 KB
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16.07.2010
BfR Opinion Nr. 025/2010
Assessment of dioxin findings in poultry meat 23.2 KB
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16.06.2010
Updated BfR Opinion Nr. 027/2010
Contamination of wild freshwater fish with dioxins and PCBs 117.7 KB
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05.05.2010
BfR Opinion Nr. 020/2010
Assessment of dioxin concentration in eggs in response to warning of EU Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed 57.8 KB
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12.10.2009
BfR Opinion No 005/2010
Criteria for dietary recommendations for freshwater fish contaminated with dioxins and PCBs 52.0 KB
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02.10.2009
BfR Opinion No 003/2010
Marker substances for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) for food control purposes 30.8 KB
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31.08.2009
BfR Opinion No. 034/2009
No risk to health from DEET residues in chanterelle mushrooms from Eastern Europe 27.7 KB
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18.08.2009
BfR Opinion No. 007/2010
Nitrite in spinach and other foodstuffs 28.3 KB
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28.02.2009
BfR Opinion No. 009/2009
Nicotine in dried boletus mushrooms: Causes for contamination must be determined 27.3 KB
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06.02.2009
Updated BfR Opinion No. 032/2009
Nitrate in rocket lettuce, spinach and other lettuces 35.6 KB
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02.11.2008
BfR Opinion No. 044/2008
No acute threat to health from pesticide residues in grapes 30.4 KB
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23.10.2008
BfR Opinion No. 005/2009
Does glycidamide in food constitute a health risk? 27.7 KB
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02.10.2008
BfR Opinion No. 039/2008
Soft toffees "White Rabbit Creamy Candies" contaminated with melamine from China are not safe 28.1 KB
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11.09.2008
BfR Opinion No. 004/2009
Health risks from PFOS and PFOA in food are unlikely according to the scientific knowledge currently available 40.1 KB
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10.09.2008
BfR Opinion No. 041/2008
Consumer tip for pregnant and breastfeeding women to restrict their consumption of tuna fish is still valid 28.4 KB
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07.05.2008
BfR Opinion No. 021/2008
No health risk from formetanate in strawberries 27.5 KB
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27.03.2008
BfR Opinion Nr. 012/2008
Analytical results of PAN Europe: BfR does not see any health risks from the pesticide residues detected in wine 26.9 KB
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25.03.2008
BfR Opinion No. 008/2009
BfR assesses research results of samples of mineral water with hormone-like effects 30.0 KB
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29.02.2008
Updated BfR Opinion No. 029/2008
The proposed EU maximum levels for non-dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls (ndl-PCBs) are still too high 69.1 KB
PDF-File
07.01.2008
Updated BfR Expert Opinion No. 007/2008
Collection and pre-selection of available data to be used for the risk assessment of malachite green residues by JECFA 456.9 KB
PDF-File
11.12.2007
BfR Opinion No. 047/2007
Infant formula and follow-up formula may contain harmful 3-MCPD fatty acid esters 69.1 KB
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09.10.2007
BfR Opinion No. 041/2007
BfR believes that the intake of organophosphate compounds from fruit juice is unlikely 27.7 KB
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13.07.2007
BfR Opinion No. 038/2007
BfR proposes regional intake recommendations for fresh cod liver 30.5 KB
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05.04.2007
Joint Opinion No. 020/2007 of BfS and BfR
BfR recommends the establishment of a European maximum level for uranium in drinking and mineral water 68.6 KB
PDF-File
14.02.2007
BfR Expert Opinion No. 011/2007
Impact of revised toxicity equivalency factors (TEFs) on the toxic equivalents (TEQs) of the World Health Organisation 216.7 KB
PDF-File
31.01.2007
BfR Opinion No. 015/2007
BfR suggests the introduction of a maximum level for cadmium in chocolate 29.7 KB
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10.01.2007
BfR Opinion No 028/2007
Salad mix contaminated with groundsel containing pyrrolizidine alkaloids 61.8 KB
PDF-File
04.09.2006
BfR Opinion No. 003/2007
BfR advises against taking over the new toxic equivalency factors (WHO-TEFs) into the statutory EU provisions for food and feed 36.3 KB
PDF-File
30.06.2006
BfR Opinion No. 004/2007
The proposed EU maximum levels for non-dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls (ndl-PCBs) in food are too high 63.0 KB
PDF-File
27.06.2006
BfR Expert Opinion No. 033/2006
Pesticide exposure and Parkinson's disease: BfR sees association but no causal relationship 186.3 KB
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20.06.2006
BfR Opinion No. 042/2007
Cadmium level in pine nuts is safe 29.6 KB
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18.05.2005
BfR Expert Opinion No. 029/2005
Risk assessment of genotoxic and carcinogenic substances to be harmonised in the EU 54.4 KB
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07.04.2005
Opinion No. 028/2005 of 18 May 2005 on EFSA’s Draft Opinion
Harmonised approach for the risk assessment of compounds which are both genotoxic and carcinogenic 42.9 KB
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01.12.2004
Updated Expert Opinion No. 005/2005 of the BfR
Bone fragments in beet cossettes 56.0 KB
PDF-File
20.07.2004
BfR Opinion
2-Ethylhexanoic acid in baby food and fruit juices packed in glass containers 67.0 KB
PDF-File
15.10.2003
Supplementary opinion of BfR
Semicarbazide in foods 17.0 KB
PDF-File

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FAQ

 (1)
Date Title Size
17.08.2016
BfR FAQs
Selected questions and answers about barbecuing 64.9 KB
PDF-File

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