European food safety standards for lead and cadmium in food and dietary supplements became stricter on August 30 and 31 as part of a pan-European cancer prevention plan.
It’s well-known that lead and cadmium are toxic carcinogens, significantly affecting human health. Therefore, new maximum levels of these heavy metals in food had to be introduced.
Leading European Commissioners for Health and Food Safety highlighted the importance of providing access to safe and healthy food with reduced content of heavy metals for human health.
Excessive intake of cadmium, present primarily in potatoes, vegetables, cereals, nuts, etc., may prove fatal to kidneys. Findings revealed that children, vegetarians, smokers, etc., exceed the tolerable weekly cadmium intake levels by twofold.
This led the EU to establish new maximum levels for food items such as salt, fish, berries, garlic, beetroots, cocoa, chocolate, and baby foods.
Furthermore, new restrictions on lead content in baby and children’s food, spices, wine, salt, offals, and wild fungi recently came into force. This is because this heavy metal may lead to cardiovascular issues in adults, developmental neurotoxicity in children, and affect fetal neurological development.
The primary dietary sources of lead in Europe are tap water, leafy vegetables, potatoes, grains, cereal products, etc. For example, the maximum lead levels in salt were lowered from 2 mg/kg to 1 mg/kg.
Finally, foodstuffs that don’t comply with the new regulations (those placed on the shelves before August 30 and 31) may remain on the market until February 28, 2022.