The Contaminants in Food (England) Regulations 2010 come into force on 20 October 2010. They revoke and replace the Contaminants in Food (England) Regulations 2009 with changes to reflect recent amendments to the corresponding EU legislation as regards aflatoxins in certain foods.

Aflatoxins are mycotoxins produced primarily by two species of Aspergillus, a fungus that is especially found in areas with hot and humid climates. Aflatoxins are known to be genotoxic and carcinogenic in some animal species and exposure through food should be kept as low as possible. Aflatoxins can occur in foods such as groundnuts, tree nuts, maize, rice, figs and other dried foods, spices, crude vegetable oils, and cocoa beans. They arise as a result of fungal contamination before and after the harvest.

The recent changes to the European legislation increased the maximum permitted level of total aflatoxins specifically for almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios and Brazil nuts. The new levels take into account recent scientific advice and align EU limits with Codex Alimentarius maximum aflatoxins levels.

The new maximum aflatoxins limits for ready to eat almonds, pistachios, hazel nuts and Brazil nuts is 10 μg/kg; for those that will undergo further processing, the limit is increased to15 μg/kg.

It is anticipated that businesses will benefit as a consequence of the raised maximum permitted levels of aflatoxins in these products as this will result in fewer products being withdrawn from the market thereby reducing the costs for affected businesses.