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EU To Tackle Breakfast Cereals Cancer Risk

The European Union will try to set maximum levels of a potentially cancerous chemical after several countries recalled breakfast cereals that contain it on the packaging, the EU executive said March 5.

Several EU countries, including Belgium, Germany, Greece, Portugal and Spain, are believed to be affected but the problem is not seen as serious, officials say.

EU food safety experts were to meet to discuss a possible maximum level of 4-methylbenzophenone (4-MBP), a likely carcinogen used in inks and lacquers applied on the surface of cereals packs, mainly made of cardboard.

The meeting comes after the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) said earlier this week that children could be at risk if they ate a lot of cereals contaminated with the chemical, which may seep into the packaging and contaminate solid foodstuffs.

“In this meeting, the commission will discuss with member states a common maximum acceptable level for 4-MBP in foods,” Nina Papadoulaki, the European Commission’s spokeswoman for health, said.

Restrictions on using cardboard packs printed with inks containing 4-MBP and the similarly structured benzophenone would be discussed, unless there were protective barriers, like special plastics or an aluminium layer, she said.

In its scientific opinion published this week, EFSA said it needed more information to fully assess consumer exposure to the chemical and its toxicological effects in humans.

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