Imports of PBDEs and other toxic chemicals permitted under certain conditions by Nick Boley
April 30, 2014, 10:15
Filed under: chemicals, REACH/CLP | Tags: ,

The REACH Comitology Committee has decided at its recent meeting to permit the importation of three toxic chemicals into the European Union under certain conditions.

Under the EU Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Regulation, the following  chemicals have now been approved for importation under the conditions stated:

  • Octabromodiphenyl ether (Including hexa- and heptabromodiphenyl ethers), where they are an unintentional trace contaminant in substances, preparations or articles and in concentrations less than 10mg/kg. The production, placing on the market and use of preparations containing concentrations below 0.1% of hexa- or heptabromodiphenyl ether by weight, when produced partially, or fully, from recycled materials or materials from waste prepared for re-use, is also allowed.
  • Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid, perfluorooctane sulfonates, sulfonamides and sulfonyls (PFOS) where they occur as an unintentional trace contaminant in substances, preparations or articles, provided that the concentration is less than 10mg/kg. Their import is also allowed when the concentration in semi-finished products or articles is lower than 0.1% by weight, calculated with reference to the mass of structurally or micro-structurally distinct parts that contain PFOS; or for textiles or other coated materials, if the amount of PFOS is lower than 1μg/m2 of the coated material.
  • Similarly to Octabromodiphenyl ether above, penta- and tetrabromodiphenyl ether are  allowed into the EU if they occur as an unintentional trace contaminant in substances, preparations or articles in concentrations less than 10mg/kg.

This will be published in the Official Journal subsequently, and it will require laboratories to be able to measure these substances at the levels specified accurately in order to fully and effectively police enforcement. Measurement of, in particular, the family of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) is challenging for laboratories, and this further illustrates the need to develop appropriate Certified Reference Materials (CRMs) to assist laboratories in validating their procedures for determining these toxic chemicals in the types of matrix where they occur as contaminants.


Peanut allergy labelling policy changed by major retailer by Nick Boley
April 23, 2014, 09:27
Filed under: Allergies | Tags: ,

A major UK retailer has changed its labelling policy on allergens in its products. Tesco has now added advice on the presence of peanuts – to which hundreds of thousands of people have an allergy – to a significantly wider range of products, including pizza and baked beans, which have traditionally not been labelled as containing nuts.

There is concern over whether these products do contain small traces of nuts – which even at very trace levels can cause significant problems for  some allergy sufferers – or whether tests to determine whether such traces are present are being carried out.

This highlights the dichotomy for food retailers and producers between labelling as a precautionary measure and allowing allergy sufferers to choose from a wide range of safe foods. The Government Chemist has been carrying out work on improving allergen detection and quantitation, and this is carrying on into the new programme of work (April 2014 to March 2017).

There have been significant advances recently in the quality and reliability of methods which can be employed in laboratories for the measurement of a range of allergens in foodstuffs.



EU revises triclosan limits in some cosmetics by Nick Boley

The European Commission has published a regulation, 35/2014, which amends Annexes II and V to Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009, covering cosmetic products.

The Scientific Committee on Consumer Products (SCCP) considered that the continued use of triclosan as a preservative at the current maximum concentration limit of 0.3 % in all cosmetic products is not safe for the consumer because of cumulative exposure effects. However, they considered that its use at a maximum concentration of 0.3 % in toothpastes, hand soaps, body soaps/shower gels and deodorants, face powders and blemish concealers is safe. In addition, the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) considered that other uses of triclosan –  in nail products where the intended use is to clean the fingernails and toenails before the application of artificial nail systems at a maximum concentration of 0.3 % and in mouthwashes at a maximum concentration of 0.2 % are safe for the consumer.

It has been previously reported that there are currently over 450 water bodies in the UK which are in excess of the maximum triclosan levels according the EU’s Water Framework Directive, and reductions in levels of this preservative in widely-used consumer and cosmetic products are necessary if this is to be remedied.


European Commission Implements changes to Organic food rules by Nick Boley

The European Commission has published a new Regulation, Commission Implementing Regulation 354/2014, which amends the rules for the production labelling and control of organic foods.

The Regulation covers fertilisers and plant protection products used in the production of organic foods, and changes some limits for specific substances in some fertilisers and plant protection products. A good example of this is the change of the limit for Chromium (VI) –  a known serious toxin – being changed from zero to “not detectable” in certain products or by-products of animal origin. A zero limit is extremely difficult to enforce and poses significant problems for analytical chemists, whereas a not detectable limit can be enforced and recognises the advances made recently in the separation and measurement at lower limits of detection of this particular species of chromium.




No reduction in maximum Cadmium levels likely by Nick Boley
April 8, 2014, 16:36
Filed under: EU Information | Tags: , ,

The European Commission have published a Recommendation which addresses the issue of the maximum permitted levels of cadmium in foodstuffs.

The Recommendation concludes that it would be very difficult to further reduce the levels of cadmium in foods due to the non-uniform nature of the distribution of cadmium levels across foods, depending on soil type, growing conditions, fertiliser type and use, etc.

There are some moves to reduce some of the inputs of cadmium during the growing of food and on land used for raising food animals, but these will take time to be implemented and produce the desired effects.

So, don’t expect any reduction in maximum cadmium levels permitted in food any time soon.

New substances added to REACH Annex XVII by Nick Boley
April 1, 2014, 13:32
Filed under: chemicals, REACH/CLP | Tags: , ,

13 new substances have been added to Annex XVII of the REACH Regulation by the European Commission, as they are deemed to be carcinogenic, mutagenic or reprotoxic (CMR) substances.

The substances are:

  • indium phosphide;
  • trixylyl phosphate;
  • 4-tertbutylbenzoic;
  • pitch, coal tar, high-temperature;
  • hydrogen treated naphtha;
  • epoxiconazole;
  • nitrobenzene;
  • dihexyl phthalate;
  • N-ethyl-2-pyrrolidone;
  • gallium arsenide;
  • ammoniumpentadecafluorooctanoate;
  • perfluorooctanoic acid;
  • 2-ethylhexyl 10-ethyl-4,4-dioctyl-7-oxo-8-oxa-3,5-dithia-4-stannatetradecanoate

Of these, indium phosphide, trixylyl phosphate and 4-tert-butylbenzoic acid are restricted as of 1 April 2014. The others will be restricted subsequently.