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Parliamentary questions
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7 April 2021
Question for written answer  E-001874/2021
to the Commission
Rule 138
Annika Bruna (ID)
 Answer in writing 
 Subject: Putting a stop to imports of contaminated foods

In early September 2020, ethylene oxide residues were detected in many lots of sesame seeds imported from India, as a result of fraud by Indian suppliers.

In certain lots, levels of ethylene oxide were as high as 186 mg/kg, 3 500 times the maximum permissible residue level of 0.05 mg/kg.

Ethylene oxide, a pesticide used to sterilise foodstuffs, is banned in Europe and is classified as a reproductive toxicant, a carcinogen and even a mutagen, as exposure to the pesticide could lead to genetic disorders.

Other contaminated products have since been identified, such as ginger, turmeric, chocolate, fleur de sel, nuts, rice, dehydrated mushrooms and vegetables, tea, etc.

Measures have been taken to protect consumers by recalling contaminated products. However, this new health scandal highlights the fact that neither Member States nor the Commission are in a position to monitor the safety of imported food products.

My questions to the Commission are as follows:

1. Are we witnessing a mass poisoning of the European population by imported products which do not comply with EU rules?

2. What practical measures does the Commission intend to take to prevent contaminated foods from entering the European market?

Original language of question: FR
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