Short inventory of EU legislation on plant toxins in food

M. de Nijs*, M.Y. Noordam, H.G.J. Mol

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    3 Citations (Scopus)


    Plant toxins, secondary metabolites that are not essential for the survival of the organism itself but are toxic to human health, are produced by many plants. Plant toxins can be present as inherent metabolites in daily foods such as potatoes, herbs and spices or in herbal preparations. Plant toxins can be present as contaminants in foods as a result of unintentionally co-harvested weeds, transfer from feed to products of animal origin, or as residue after application of plant toxins as natural pesticides. Incidents with plant toxins are reported in Europe, mainly as a result of mixing-up of plant species used in herbal remedies or similarities between edible crops and certain weeds. EU legislation on plant toxins in food, if existing at all, is scattered over different legal acts, such as acts on contaminants, flavourings and residues. Limits for plant toxins are, furthermore, mentioned in product specifications of approved novel foods and thus related to one specific plant product. It was concluded that there is a need for a more coherent legislation on plant toxins in food in the EU to ensure consumer health.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)129-139
    JournalQuality Assurance and Safety of Crops & Foods
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2017


    • Botanical impurities
    • Food
    • Legal limits
    • Plant toxins
    • Regulations


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