Updated testing requirements for products imported from India

Ethylene oxide testing: Updated requirements for products imported from India

After representation by the sector Defra have amended their guidance and removed the requirement for testing of fresh produce from India for ethylene oxide.

They state 'fresh produce is not within scope of these additional requirements as the risk of contamination is deemed very low and no prior cases of contaminated fresh produce have been identified.'

For all other products the Defra requirements, previously communicated in certification news in December, remain in place as detailed below:

  • Importers shall take samples of all organic food, feed, and seed products, (except fresh produce), on arrival from India. Defra have confirmed that samples must be taken on arrival in GB irrespective of any prior testing in India.

  • The samples must be tested for Ethylene Oxide (ETO) and testing must be accredited to ISO17025. We can provide a list of some laboratories that offer accredited testing.

  • Operators may only use such products or place them on the market after appropriate laboratory test showing no residues of ETO, unless the product is placed on the market without indication referring to the organic production method and is compliant with the relevant other horizontal legal requirements.

  • Given the existing serious concerns about contamination of Indian products, the importer shall immediately inform their certification body if any ETO residues are detected.

  • All products contaminated with ETO shall be downgraded to conventional, including all positive results above the limit of quantification (LOQ)

  • In the event that the test results indicate the presence of ETO above the Maximum Residue Limit*, (MRL), the goods will be subject to an immediate withdrawal. Please note that if an analysis result indicates the MRL has been breached, goods must not be marketed. Measurement uncertainty does not apply with respect to food business compliance

  • The Food Standards Agency defines ‘withdrawal’ as “the process by which unsafe food is removed from the supply chain, where unsafe food has not yet reached the consumer”. They have confirmed based on their risk assessment that FSA advice is products contaminated with ETO should be withdrawn from the market.  This means not selling anymore products and removing products from shelves.  A recall of products from consumers is not required.

Details on MRLs can be found on the HSE website or visit the MRL database for more info.