SAFEGUARDS | Food NO. 189/15

SafeGuardS breakfast cereals

On October 27 2015, the European Commission published Regulation (EU) No 2015/1933, amending Annex to Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006, in regards to maximum levels for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in foodstuffs. The new regulation adds cocoa fiber, banana chips, food supplements, dried herbs and dried spices in a range of foodstuffs for which maximum levels of PAHs are set.

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are carcinogenic and can occur during food processing, for example smoking, roasting, baking, drying and grilling. The EU has set maximum levels of PAHs in foodstuffs via Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 [1], amended by Regulation (EU) No 835/2011 [2]. Recently, the EU published Regulation (EU) No 2015/1933 [3], in regard to maximum levels for PAHs in cocoa fiber, banana chips, food supplements, dried herbs and dried spices.   

Cocoa fiber is a specific cocoa product produced from the shell of the cocoa bean and contains higher levels of PAHs than the cocoa products produced from the cocoa nibs. The cocoa fiber and derived products are used as an ingredient in the preparation of low calorie, high fiber foods. As these products have a low fat content, it is appropriate to establish the specific levels of PAHs for cocoa fiber and derived products on a wet weight basis. 

Banana chips are used in breakfast cereals and confectionery as well as being eaten as snacks. PAH findings in banana chips are related to their frying in coconut oil, but it lacks sufficient PAH occurrence data for banana chips. Therefore, the maximum levels for banana chips correspond to the maximum levels for coconut oil intended for direct human consumption or use as an ingredient in food.

High levels of PAHs have been found in food supplements, dried herbs and dried spices due to these products having been linked to bad drying practices. Also, food supplements containing or derived from propolis, royal jelly and spirulina have been found to have high levels of PAHs due to their being linked to the application of bad practices. It is appropriate to establish maximum levels for PAHs in these products.

Regarding the information of these products, Regulation of PAHs in the annex to Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 is amended in point 6.1.2 as follows:


Maximum levels (µg/kg)


Benzo(a)pyrene, benz(a)anthracene, benzo(b)fluoranthene and chrysene


Sum of benzo(a)pyrene, benz(a) anthracene,  benzo(b)fluoranthene and  chrysene


Cocoa beans and derived products with the exception of the products referred to in point 6.1.11

5.0 µg/kg fat from 1.4.2013

35.0 µg/kg fat as from 1.4.2013 until 31.3.2015

30.0 µg/kg fat as from 1.4.2015

And add the following points in section 6:


Cocoa fiber and products derived from cocoa fiber, intended for use as an ingredient in food




Banana chips




Food supplements containing botanicals and their preparations

Food supplements containing propolis, royal jelly, spirulina or their preparations




Dried herbs




Dried spices with the exception of cardamom and smoked Capsicum spp.



The new maximum levels for PAHs, for foodstuffs listed in this Regulation shall apply from 1 April 2016, with the exception of cocoa fiber and products derived from cocoa fiber, intended for use as an ingredient in food. For the latter, the maximum level is applied from the date of entry into force of this Regulation, which is 20 days after publication.

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