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How much active substance gets into the feeding trough and onto the plate?

34/2018, 25.10.2018

Questions on changes in the concentrations of substances during the production of foods and feeds are the focus of a BfR workshop

The type and quantity of residues and contaminants in foods and feeds can change under the conditions of further processing in industry and at home. "Precise knowledge of whether and to what extent these changes take place is important, in order to make a realistic estimation of exposure to these substances via food and thereby of the health risks for consumers and livestock," explains BfR President, Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel on the occasion of the workshop "Assessment of residues and contaminants in processed foods and feeds" which the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is organising from 25 to 26 October in Berlin. More than 100 participants from regional and national authorities and the food and feed processing industry are expected along with interested members of the general public. The focus of the discussions will be on the use of processing factors.

Food companies are obliged to guarantee compliance with maximum residue levels or maximum tolerable concentrations of contaminants in the foods they produce. This also applies to processed foods. Official food monitoring authorities check that food companies comply with this obligation. Maximum levels of contaminants in processed foods and feeds are often established directly for the processed products, which makes it easy to monitor compliance. If, however, processed foods are examined for substances whose maximum levels were established for the unprocessed starting product, such as plant protection products, a recalculation has to be made with the help of processing factors. A processing factor is defined as the ratio of the residue in the processed product to the residue in the corresponding unprocessed product. It indicates whether residue levels increase or decrease through processing. There is often legal uncertainty when the marketability of products is assessed with the help of processing factors. The workshop is intended to contribute towards the establishment of a uniform procedure in deriving and using processing factors.

About the BfR

The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is a scientifically independent institution within the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) in Germany. It advises the Federal Government and Federal Laender on questions of food, chemical and product safety. The BfR conducts its own research on topics that are closely linked to its assessment tasks.

This text version is a translation of the original German text which is the only legally binding version.

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