After the EU had returned Serbian goods containing pesticides several times this year from its border, another shipment had the same destiny. Croatia returned a truckload of biscuits from Serbia from its border due to the presence of titanium dioxide.
The EU Food Safety Agency banned the use of titanium dioxide in food in January 2022, stating that there is a potential that the chemical can damage DNA, the genetic material of cells.
According to the Rulebook on Food Additives from 2018, the use of this substance in Serbia is allowed, is still on the list of approved food additives (labelled E171) and due to its ability to reflect light and white colour, it is used in chemical, cosmetic, food and the pharmaceutical industry.
According to Slađana Savić, an assistant professor at the Department of Applied Chemistry at the Faculty of Chemistry in Belgrade, this substance is also used in some pesticides and it is added to medicines as a protective layer due to its inertness and stability.
She points out that scientific research indicates that the intake of titanium dioxide can damage DNA and cause serious diseases, such as cancer.
“If titanium dioxide is ingested, the EFSA (EU Food Safety Agency) estimates, based on scientific research, that very little is absorbed through the digestive system, but it can still accumulate in the body and lead to DNA damage, which can later cause the development of tumours,” said Slađana Savić.
The issue here is what happens to the disputed goods after they return to our country. Dejan Gavrilović from the Efektiva consumer association reminds that biscuits are not the only example of Serbian goods not meeting the EU criteria and that several shipments of Serbian food were returned during the summer, especially due to the excessive amount of pesticides. The returned biscuits, he said, are another indicator of inadequate food control in Serbia.
“We cannot be sure whether the returned shipment will be sold in the Serbian market, because Serbia’s criteria are not the same as the EU’s, therefore, what Europe considers suspicious goods, Serbian authorities might not,” Gavrilović said.
He also reminded that a few years ago there was a problem with aflatoxin, which was solved administratively by increasing the allowed aflatoxin limit in food.
As of today, the use of 113 plant protection products is banned in Serbia, which is part of Serbia’s aligning its regulations with the EU’s.
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