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Parliamentary questions
PDF 39kWORD 9k
28 October 2019
Question for written answer E-003494/2019
to the Commission
Rule 138
Petra De Sutter
 Answer in writing 
 Subject: Lead in turmeric

A new study published in Environmental Research revealed that turmeric is often adulterated with lead chromate (PbCrO4) in Bangladesh. Evidence of turmeric adulteration was found in seven out of nine turmeric-producing districts in the country, and in some cases lead concentrations in turmeric exceeded the national limit by up to 500 times. Lead is being added to turmeric by polishers in order to satisfy wholesalers who are driven by consumer demand for these yellow roots. However, lead is a potent neurotoxin which increases the risk of heart and brain disease in adults, and interferes with children’s brain development.

There is a risk that this adulterated turmeric might enter the European market. Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 lays down maximum levels for certain contaminants in foodstuffs, including lead. The regulation includes a maximum level for lead in food supplements (which sometimes contain turmeric), but does not mention a maximum level for spices as such.

Why is there no European maximum level for lead in spices, given the potential harm to public health of high concentrations of lead that may be found in turmeric?

How does the EU prevent turmeric with lead from being imported into the European market?

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