Member countries comment on sulfur dioxide in dried apricots

The INC attended the 70th session of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), Specialized Section on Standardization of Dry and Dried Produce, in Geneva, Switzerland, on June 12-14. The INC delegation participated actively by providing insights and expert comments.

Member States reviewed the new standards for in-shell pecans and pecan kernels, the existing standards for cashew kernels, and raw and roasted peanut kernels, and the explanatory posters for the commercial quality of several nuts and dried fruits. Among other future works, the INC will lead a group that will produce guidelines for reducing food loss and waste.

The delegate of the European Commission informed about the re-evaluation of sulfur dioxide-sulfite content in food by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which concluded that the current levels of sulfur dioxide-sulfite usage may be a cause for concern. However, the available toxicity data was insufficient to establish an Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) level, and they used a margin-of-exposure approach. EFSA also concluded that, for the majority of the population, dried fruits are not the main contributors to sulfite exposure. There was a rich discussion on the issue with several delegations expressing concern as there are no viable alternatives to sulfites that can achieve the same results. They are highly effective at preventing spoilage, extending the shelf life and preserving the color of the fruit. The INC delegation also expressed concern, as lowering the maximum levels in dried apricots would trigger a major trade disruption without achieving the intended purpose.

The INC delegation also met with representatives of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to discuss global trade and industry statistics, and with the UNECE/FAO Forestry and Timber Section to exchange views on forest protection and reforestation in regards to the INC sustainability project on reforestation.

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