Food safety schemes including good agricultural and/or hygienic practices, traceability from the field to the fork, sampling schemes etc. have been installed on national or company level. Europatat aims for full compliance with the European legislation, while also minimising the use of plant protection products (PPPs) and moving towards better agricultural practices. The high level rate of MRL compliance confirms the commitment undertaken by the sector towards the common goal.
Active substances and MRL legislation
The availability of pesticides to grow and store potatoes is of the highest importance to pres¬ent a quality product to the consumer and to assure the trade position of the European potato sector. To this end Europatat continuously monitors developments regarding the withdrawal and authorisation of plant protection products and corresponding Maximum Residue Levels (MRL). All the matters related to food safety and quality are discussed together with the membership of Europatat. In recent months the potential ban on use of certain pesticides (neonicotinoids, diquat) are being closely followed to assess the impact for the potato supply chain. Europatat is also actively involved in the activities of the “Agri-Food Chain Round Table for Plant Protection”.
Commission Regulation (EU) 2017/2158 establishing mitigation measures and benchmark levels (but not maximum permitted levels) for the reduction of acrylamide in food was formally adopted and published in the Official Journal on 20 November 2017. The regulation, coming into effect from 11 April 2018, sets out in detail the required mitigation measures for the different food categories (5 in total), including for “French fries, crisps and other potato products.”
All food business operators (FBOs) supplying the EU market will be expected to put in place practi¬cal steps to manage acrylamide within their food safety management systems. In order to check the compliance with the benchmark levels, the effectiveness of mitigation measures should be verified through sampling and analysis. For products based on raw potatoes, “FBOs shall identify and use the potato varieties that are suitable for the product type and where the content of acrylamide precursors, such as reducing sugars (fructose and glucose) and asparagine is the lowest for the regional conditions”. Benchmark levels of 500 μg/kg have been set, for example, for ready-to-eat French fries and of 750 μg/kg for potato crisps from fresh potatoes and from potato dough, potato-based crackers, and other potato products from potato dough.
In addition to sampling and analysis by the FBOs, Regulation (EC) No 882/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council on official controls requires the EU Member States to regularly perform official controls to ensure compliance with feed and food law. The Commission plans to regularly review the benchmark levels with the aim to set lower levels, reflecting the continuous reduction of the presence of acrylamide in food.