The European Commission (EC) sets new limits for Cadmium (Cd) and Lead (Pb) in certain foodstuffs and food supplements. Products placed on the market before the entry into force of the new regulations and not complying with the new maximum levels will only be allowed to remain on the market for a short period of time.


Commission Regulation (EC) 1881/2006 sets, amongst others, maximum levels for Cd and Pb in a range of foodstuffs. According to the EC, the dietary exposure to Pb should be reduced within the Union by lowering the existing maximum levels (or setting additional maximum levels) for foodstuffs for which lower Pb-levels are reasonably achievable. In addition, an evaluation of the most recent data gathered after implementation of mitigation measures showed that it is achievable to reduce the presence of Cd in many foodstuffs.


Examples for maximum Cd levels according to the new Commission Regulation (EU) 2021/1323 (in ppm wet weight; not exhaustive list):

  • Fresh herbs: max. 0,20 ppm
  • Oilseeds (the maximum levels do not apply to nuts or oilseeds for oil refining, provided that the remaining pressed nuts or oilseeds are not placed on the market as food), like:
    – Peanuts and soy beans: max. 0,20 ppm
    – Linseed and sunflower seed: max. 0,50 ppm
  • Food supplements: max. 1,0 ppm


Examples for maximum Pb levels according to the new Commission Regulation (EU) 2021/1317 (in ppm wet weight; not exhaustive list):

  • Wild fungi, fresh turmeric and fresh ginger: max. 0,80 ppm
  • Food supplements: max. 3,0 ppm
  • Honey: max. 0,10 ppm
  • Dried spices:
    – Fruit spices: max. 0,60 ppm
    – Root and rhizome spices: max. 1,50 ppm
    – Bark spices: max. 2,0 ppm
    – Bud spices and flower pistil spices: max. 1,0 ppm
    – Seed spices: max. 0,90 ppm

Pharmacopoeial Requirements for Herbal Drugs and Extracts

In the EU, herbal drugs, extracts, essential oils, etc. used in medicinal products must comply with the requirements of the European Pharmacopoeia (Ph. Eur.). 


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