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FSA seeks views on proposed survey of nitrate in leafy greens

11 February 2020

The Food Standards Agency is inviting feedback on proposals for a new survey to monitor tissue nitrate levels in domestically grown leafy green vegetables.

The survey will provide a snapshot of UK compliance rates with legislative maximum levels set in Commission Regulation (EU) No 1258/2011 of 2 December 2011 amending Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 as regards maximum levels for nitrates in foodstuffs.

There has been a long-established European Commission requirement (EC/1258/2011) requesting member states to communicate annually results of nitrate monitoring in leafy green vegetables, and report on the progress of the adoption of codes of good agricultural practice by industry.

Previously the FSA has funded the continuous monitoring of nitrate levels in leafy green vegetables over a period of more than eleven years.  The results from the last survey period 2014 to 2019 and earlier monitoring surveys have been published.

The approach differs from previous survey campaigns in that the scope will include domestically grown produce only.  There will be less emphasis on those categories where there has been an observed steady decline in nitrate occurrence such as iceberg lettuce and a greater focus on rocket where levels continue to increase year on year. There will also be a ramping up in sampling of kale, chard, bulls-blood, land cress and baby leaf to investigate how nitrate levels are fluctuating in these categories as market share increases.

For more details see the FSA outline.

Comments are invited on the survey design and how the occurrence data might be used to identify potential mitigation measures to further reduce nitrate levels.

All comments should be sent by email to ian.smith@food.gov.uk by 13 March 2020. If FPC members would like FPC to comment on their behalf please email sian@freshproduce.org.uk

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