Closer attention will have to be paid to the sourcing of ingredients when the new Contaminants in Food (England) Regulations 2007 come into force on March 1, warns law firm Pinsent Masons.
The regulation will implement maximum levels for certain contaminants found in food. It will also introduce two new regulations on dioxins and dioxin-like compounds and nitrates.
The main changes, say Pinsent Masons, will be the widening of the application of the maximum level for lead in milk and milk-based products to include milk from all farmed animals; and the inclusion of deoxynivalenol and zearalenone only for cereal bran marketed for direct human consumption and wheat germ.
Linda Crow, head of the firm's Food and Drink Group, says: "These latest measures will mean food processors will have to pay closer attention in the sourcing of ingredients."
Local authorities will be given the legislative powers to take samples and ensure food is compliant with the new European Commission legislation, she says, and action will be taken where food is found to be non-compliant.
Measures aimed at improving customer confidence in the food chain and achieving greater harmonisation for food manufacturers across Europe are welcome, says Crow. However, there are concerns that they will lead to higher testing costs for some sectors and that these will eventually be passed back along the food chain to growers.
"There is also a greater emphasis on labelling, with businesses using dried, diluted, processed and compound foodstuffs required to provide greater information on the specific concentration or dilution factors used in their products," she adds. "Those using ground nuts, derived products, and cereals will also be required to clearly label all packages indicating their intended use, whether for feed, food or other purposes."