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The monitoring programme

Monitoring constitutes a systematic measuring and supervision programme that has been jointly performed by the Federal Government and the Federal States since 1995. It representatively covers foodstuffs, and – since 2010 – also cosmetic products and commodities, which are examined for substances or microorganisms undesirable from a health perspective.

Objectives and legal basis of monitoring

Monitoring is part of the preventive framework for consumer health protection. It helps early recognition and possible prevention through targeted measures where appropriate, of potential risks to consumers’ health, which might be caused by undesirable substances. Those include residues of plant protection and biocide products, mycotoxins, heavy metals, other contaminants, and microorganisms found in and on foodstuffs, cosmetic products and commodities. Monitoring is an independent legal task in the framework of official controls based on §§ 50–52 of the German Food and Feed Code (LFGB).

Performance of monitoring

Performance of monitoring is regulated by § 51 of the Food and Feed Code. It is based on a plan drawn up annually by the Federal Government and the Federal States fixing in detail the products to be examined, the substances to be tested for and the distribution of monitoring analyses over the Federal States. Participating laboratories are provided with a monitoring manual, which serves as a guideline for the practical performance of monitoring. In addition to their routine control tasks, the monitoring authorities in the Federal States are also tasked with drawing samples and analysis for the purpose of monitoring. The data obtained by the monitoring programme is compiled and assessed by the BVL. The findings are published in an annual monitoring report.

Both the monitoring manual and the annual report of monitoring findings, including a volume of tables giving a compressed account of the data, can be downloaded from the right-hand side of this page.

What criteria are used for selecting products and substances?

Products subject to monitoring are chosen according to the provisions of § 3 of the General administrative regulations on the performance of monitoring for foodstuffs, cosmetic products and commodities 2016–2020 (AVV Monitoring 2016–2020). These provisions are based on a long-term plan agreed between the Federal Government and the Federal States for developing sound data for risk assessment of, e. g., residues of plant protection and biocide products, heavy metals, mycotoxins, perfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS), dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB). This plan also covers Article 29 of Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 on the delivery of findings about pesticide residues in certain foodstuffs.

The foodstuffs to be examined are part of a representative “market” basket derived from national consumption studies (market basket monitoring). Apart from that, some food is analysed in the framework of particular projects (project monitoring, introduced in 2003). These projects centre on particular problems related to certain foods or substances that are of topical importance.

Each foodstuff chosen is analysed for certain substances which may occur as residues or contaminants in or on the product, and which have been specified in advance. Such substances may be:

  • Residues of plant protection and biocide products
  • Toxic reaction products (e. g., acrylamide, 3-MCPD, furan)
  • Organic contaminants (e. g., dioxins, PCB, PFAS, aromatic hydrocarbons)
  • Residues of pharmacologically active substances
  • Mycotoxins (e. g., aflatoxins, OTA, T-2/HT-2, ZEA, DON, fumonisins, patulin)
  • Elements (e. g., heavy metals)
  • Nitrate and nitrite

As regards cosmetic and consumer products, monitoring examinations are carried out primarily for elements, organic substances and microorganisms in selected groups of products.

How many analyses are carried out?

The monitoring programme will annually include a total of 9,000 tests on foodstuffs, 500 tests on cosmetic products and 500 tests on commodities on the national scale, pursuant to § 3(2) of the AVV Monitoring 2016–2020. A test in the meaning of these provisions is the analysis of one product for certain representatives of one of the aforementioned group of substances, or for microorganisms. The authorities in the Federal States may choose whether the tests for a product shall be carried out on one and the same sample or on different samples of that product. Per product, a minimum number of 50 samples will be tested.

What happens with monitoring findings?

Monitoring findings are continuously incorporated into health risk assessment. The results are used for review and revision, where necessary, of legal limits (maximum residue levels) of substances that are undesirable from a health perspective. As regards cosmetic products, updating of the data serves, among other purposes, to derive guidance values for technically unavoidable contents of, for example, elements. For these purposes, the data is delivered to the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) pursuant to § 51(5) of the Food and Feed Code and to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Conspicuous findings may lead to further studies into the causes of those findings in later monitoring programmes.

The 2018 monitoring programme

The following products will be examined in the framework of the market basket monitoring in 2018 for various substances or groups of substances:

Foodstuffs

  • Beef, meat
  • Blue mussels (Mytilus sp.)
  • Boar, meat
  • Butter
  • Camembert, Brie cheese, gorgonzola/roquefort
  • Egg, chicken
  • Minced beef
  • Pollack (Theragra chalcogramma)
  • Prawns (Aristeomorpha sp.), shrimp (Penaeidae sp.)
  • Sour cream
  • Tuna fish
  • Turkey, meat
  • Yoghurt made from ewe’s milk
  • Apricot
  • Banana, baby-bananas, plantain
  • Bell pepper
  • Broccoli
  • Coffee; roasted, ground
  • Cowberry
  • Cucumber
  • Dried algae
  • Dried dates
  • Grapefruit
  • Grapes red/white
  • Green cabbage
  • Herbal tea, (chamomile blossoms tea, nettle tea, rooibos tea, melissa tea, Paraguaytee, verbena tea)
  • Linseed
  • Maize flour, maize grit
  • Oat grain
  • Olive oil, cold-pressed
  • Orange juice
  • Paprika powder
  • Parsley
  • Pea
  • Poppy seed
  • Processed cereal-based foods for infants and young children
  • Pumpkin seed oil
  • Radish
  • Rocket
  • Spelt grain
  • Sweetcorn
  • Tofu
  • Water melon
  • Wheat grain, whole wheat flour
  • White mushroom (Agarius bisporus), oyster mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus), king oyster mushroom (Pleurotus eryngii)

Cosmetic products

  • Elements in skincare applications (baby powder), make-up products (make-up powder, rouge powder, eyeshadow powder) and dental care products (children toothpaste/toothgel)
  • Nitrosamines in nail polish

Consumer products

  • Primary aromatic amines in footwear made of leather or material combinations after reductive cleavage of azo dyes
  • Mineral oil in food packaging made of paper/cardboard or textiles and migration of mineral oil into the packaged dried food
  • Preservatives in toys and joke articles
  • Migration of melamine and formaldehyde from plastic articles intended for consumption of food
  • Release of elements from jewellery and piercings/earrings

The 2018 project monitoring will include the following subjects:

  • Zearalenone in Soya
  • Pyrrolizidine alkaloids in tea
  • Residues of plant protection products in partially fermented grape must
  • Elements in dried algae (seaweed)

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© 2018 Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety