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Wissen, was drin ist.


May 2018

New Organic Regulation Coming
Monitoring Metals and Iodine in Seaweed
Arsenic – A Metalloid
Further Restrictions on Neonicotinoids 
Implementation GDPR


Dear Readers,

Spring has sprung, bringing new life and changes, which is why the May issue of our newsletter leads off with the new organic regulation that has just been approved by the European Parliament. By the way, we’re eating “gree­ner” in other ways too, as the consumption of seaweed has been rising in Europe. The elevated consumption has prompted the EU to define new regulations for monitoring this type of food. In our newsletter, you will find out more about these regulations. How much do you actually know about what arsenic is and what it can do? If you’re not sure, then our article on the topic is worth a read, as it will provide you with extensive information about this element. If you have any questions or comments for us, please feel free to contact us at .

We hope you enjoy reading our newsletter!
Your GBA Laboratory Group 


New Organic Regulation Coming

by Mareen Lehmann, GBA Laboratory Group

After almost four years of work and discussion on the new version of the EC regulation on organic products, (EC) No 834/2007, an agreement has finally been reached and the new bill was passed by majority in the European Parliament on April 19th, 2018. In recent years, the market for organic products has undergone dynamic development due to increasing demand, and the existing legal framework was no longer adequate. With stricter regulations, the organic seal should be beneficial for consumers, farmers, and organic food produ­cers.[1]

Some of the most important changes included are:[2]

Stricter inspection of imports into the EU Imports have to meet EU standards
The current equivalency provisions, which state that non-EU countries have to maintain similar but not identical standards, will expire within five years.

Access to organic seeds
The supply of seeds from organic production should be increased in order to meet the rising demands. Farmers that produce both conventional as well as organic food will have to separate their production clearly and distinctly, however in general this is permitted. Furthermore, the certification process will also be simplified for small producers.

Preventing contamination
The regulations for preventing contamination from conventional farming as well as stricter precautions to avoid contamination from pesticides will be improved. This means that the entire supply chain will be inspected more thoroughly, it’s not just the final product that will be evaluated. Therefore, specific pesticide maximum levels for products from organic farming, which had been present in an earlier draft, have not been set.

Approval from the EU Minister of Agriculture is expected to be granted at the conference in June 2018, after which the regulation text will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union.[1]

The GBA Laboratory Group and its employees are constantly in communication with the authorities as well as other institutions and we also take part in many expert committees ourselves (e.g. working groups for pesticides, BNN, BLL). That is why it is so important for us to keep you up to date on the latest de­velopments in legal regulations. If you have questions about the changes to the regulations concerning pesticide analysis, we will gladly assist you as your expert partner. Please feel free to contact your individual customer service representative, or: 

GBA Gesellschaft für Bioanalytik mbH
Dr. Frank Schütt
Tel: +49 (0)40 797172-0


[1] Bund für Lebensmittelrecht und Lebensmittelkunde e.V., BLL-Rundschreiben 219-2018 vom 20.04.2018
[2], Accessed on 09 May 2018


Monitoring Metals and Iodine in Seaweed and Halophytes

by Julia Bartels, GBA Laboratory Group

On March 21st, 2018, the European Commission published the Commission Recommendation (EU) 2018/464 on the monitoring of metals and iodine in seaweed, halophytes (plants growing in saline conditions) and products based on seaweed. According to the commission recommendation, all of the EU Member States are called upon to monitor the presence of arsenic, cadmium, iodine, lead, and mercury in seaweed, halophytes, and seaweed-based products in cooperation with the food and feed business operators from 2018 until 2020. The monitoring should be conducted for the following products:[1,2]

• Edible halophytes (including Salicorna europaea and Tetragonia tetragonoides)
• Seaweed species that reflect consumption habits and feed practices, including Arame (Ecklonia bicyclis), Bladderwrack (Fucus vesiculosus), Dulse (Palmaria palmata), Hiziki (Hizikia fusiforme), Irish moss (Chondrus crispus), Oarweed (Laminaria digitata), Kombu (Laminaria japonica, Saccharina japonica), Nori or Purple laver (Porphyra and Pyropia spp.), Rockweed (Ascophyllum nodosum), Sea lettuce (Ulva sp.), Sea spaghetti (Himanthalia elongata), Serrated wrack (Fucus serratus), Sponge seaweed (Codium sp.) Sugar kelp (Sacharina latissima) Wakame (Undaria pinnatifida), and Winged kelp (Alaria esculenta)
• Food additives based on seaweed (including E400, E401, E403, E404, E405, E406, E407, E407a and E160a(iv)

Sampling should be conducted in accordance with the procedures defined in the Commission Regulation (EC) No 333/2007 (sampling foodstuffs) and/or in the Regulation (EC) No 152/2009 (sampling feed) to ensure that the samples are representative for the sampled lot. The monitoring data should then be sub­mitted to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) on a regular basis.[1,2]

The new Recommendation (EU) 2018/464 on the monitoring of metals and iodine concentrations was based on concerns surrounding the increasing consumption of seaweed and halophytes in the EU. Previously available data have already shown that seaweed can contain substantial amounts of arsenic, cadmium, iodine, lead, and mercury. Since halophytes also grow in the ocean, one can reasonably assume that they would demonstrate a similar patter of absorbing these substances, resulting in similar contamination as well. With this background in mind, it should be assessed whether it is necessary to introduce maximum levels for arsenic, cadmium, and lead in seaweed and halophytes or to adjust the maximum residue levels for mercury in algae and prokaryotic organisms or to take any further action concerning the exposure of these products to iodine. The current legal situation is as follows:[1]

• The Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 contains maximum levels for mercury, arsenic, cadmium, and lead in a variety of food products. However, for the category of food products made from seaweed and halophytes, the only maximum level that has been determined is for cadmium in products that consist either exclusively or pri­marily of dried seaweed.
• The Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 contains a general maximum residue level for mercury, which is also valid for algae and prokaryotic organisms.
• In the year 2006, the Scientific Committee on Food (SCF) set an upper limit for iodine intake of 600 µg/day for adults and 200 µg/day for children ages 1-3.[3,4]
• Specifications for food additives based on seaweed were established in the annexes of the Regulation (EU) No 231/2012.
• The Directive 2002/32/EC contains maximum levels for arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury in feed.

If you have any questions about this or any other topic, then please feel free to contact your individual customer service representative at the GBA Laboratory Group or:

GBA Gesellschaft für Bioanalytik mbH
Dr. Frank Schütt
Tel: +49 (0)40 797172-0


[1], Accessed on 10 April 2018
[2], Accessed on 10 April 2018


Arsenic – A Metalloid

by Dr. Sven Steinhauer, GBA Laboratory Group

In the European Union, preparations are currently being made to begin moni­toring the occurrence of organic and inorganic arsenic in food (see the GBA Newsletter 12/2016). The highly toxic effects of trivalent, soluble arsenic com­pounds are already known. Arsenic sometimes also occurs in groundwater at this oxidation state. Since 1992, the World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended a maximum level of 0.01 mg/L for arsenic in drinking water, which is also laid down in the German Drinking Water Regulation (TrinkwV) in Annex 2 Part II.

Arsenic is a metalloid with the chemical symbol As and atomic number 33. It is in group 15 of the periodic table and occurs in black, metallic gray, and yellow modification. In nature, it most commonly exists in the form of sulfides. In the Earth’s crust, arsenic is present in quantities similar to uranium or germanium. Its frequency in the continental crust is listed at 3.1 mg/kg.[1] Concentrations in the non-anthropogenically affected soils depend on the region and range be­tween 1 and 100 mg/kg.[2] Only a small portion of the arsenic is water soluble, yet there is no indication of a relationship between the soluble portion and the total content. Arsenic also occurs as a trace element in our bodies, although its biological function has not been determined conclusively. According to Emsley, the daily requirement is 5 – 50 µg.[3] However, it depends on certain factors, in particular the oxidation state of the arsenic and its solubility. Since 1832, there has been a method of detecting arsenic in the body, which led to a rapid decline in arsenic poisoning.[4,5] Notable arsenic emissions continue to result from volcanic gasses and burning coal, whereas the latter has been minimized by using filters. Nowadays, the two largest producers of arsenic are China, with approximately 25,000 metric tons per year, and Chile, which produces 11,500 tons annually.

Arsenic is utilized in batteries in order to achieve the required firmness in the finely structured plates. Furthermore, in its very pure form (min. 99.9999 %), it is used in the electronics industry for gallium arsenide semiconductors. Earlier applications for arsenic as a pesticide in viticulture or as a fungicide in the lumber industry no longer occur in Germany. Arsenic trioxide (As2O3) is also generated as a byproduct of smelting sulfidic copper, lead, zinc, and nickel ore. In the early days of metal smelting, the arsenic was not recovered, but instead ended up in the surrounding environment. This was a substantial hazard for the people who participated in this process. High arsenic concentrations were also detected in the hair of Ötzi, the natural mummy found in glacier ice in 1991. Due to this, it is presumed that he was involved in metalworking activities.[7]

When people began to condense the arsenic trioxide in the process, it became the precursor to all other industrially produced arsenic compounds and arsenic alloys. Arsenic trioxide, which at room temperature is a solid white material, was also known as ratsbane and was used as a poison in murders.

When processing raw water into drinking water by removing iron, manganese, and arsenic, water-works produce sludge that could contain arsenic. Arsenic can occur as a problem substance in the iron sludge. However, aside from the total content, it also depends on the type and strength of the chemi­cal bond of the arsenic in waterworks sludge. For this purpose, elution attempts were carried out according to DIN 38414 at various pH values on twenty different types of sludge, primarily from the iron and manganese removal processes.[8] The results showed a release of arsenic at the alkaline level of 1-15% of the arsenic contained in the sludge, whereas arsenic concentrations of up to 10 mg/L were found in the eluate. When carrying out DIN 38414 exactly and in the neutral range, the arsenic concentrations were considerably lower, so waste disposal class I was not exceeded.

The available data on arsenic content in waste and technogenic substrates is scattered and low density. The results of an investigation of arsenic conta­mination in substrates involving 247 open spaces in the urban region of Essen showed arsenic contents between 3 and 185 mg/kg, with a mean value of 17 mg/kg. These results reflect the anthropogenic influence in the central Ruhr region, which has been shaped by two hundred years of industrial deve­lopment (coal mines, metal foundries). An overview of the arsenic content found in waste material is provided by Meuser.[9]

The wide range of arsenic content that has been found clearly demonstrates how necessary it is to test the individual soil and waste samples for their arsenic content in order to categorize them according to the LAGA definitions or the landfill regulations. If you have any questions about this or any other topic in the field of environmental or food analysis, then please contact your individual customer service representative at the GBA Laboratory Group or:

GBA Gesellschaft für Bioanalytik mbH
Dr. Sven Steinhauer
Tel: +49 (0)40 797172-0


[1] Wedepohl, K.H.: The composition of Earth's upper crust, natural cycles of elements, natural resources. - in Merian et al. (eds.) Elements and their Compounds in the Environment, vol.1, 2nd ed., Wiley-VCH, Weinheim 2004, pp. 3-16
[2] Eikmann, T. et al.: Bodenverunreinigungen. - Europäische Akademie für Umweltfragen, Fernlehrgang "Gesundheit und Umwelt", Tübingen 1991, H. 11, 272 pp. 139
[3] John Emsley: Parfum, Portwein, PVC …. Wiley Verlag, Weinheim 2003, pp. 274–275.
[4]; Accessed on 15 May 2018
[5] njienf/index.html; Accessed on 15 May 2018
[6] UBA Texte, 113/2017
[7]; Accessed on 15 May 2018
[8] Haase, I.: Bewertung des Schadstoffpotentials von Wasserwerksschlämmen. - Dissertation Techn.Univ. Hamburg-Harburg 1995
[9] Meuser, H.: Technogene Substrate als Ausgangsgestein der Böden urban-industrieller Ver-dichtungsräume. - Schriftenreihe Inst.f.Pflanzenernährung u.Bodenkunde, Univ. Kiel, Nr. 35 (1996)


Further Restrictions on Neonicotinoids

by Mareen Lehmann, GBA Laboratory Group

In a previous issue of our newsletter (NL 15-22), we reported on neonicotinoids (clothianidin, imidacloprid, thiamethoxam) and their impact on the health of bees. Now the Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed (SC PAFF) has approved a recommendation from the European Commission to fur­ther restrict the usage of these three active ingredients in pesticides. This means that pesticides containing these neonicotinoid active ingredients will on­ly be permitted for use in enclosed greenhouses and in seeds that are planted in greenhouses. Until their harvest or utilization, these plants must stay in the greenhouse and may not be replanted outdoors.[1]

The agreement was based on the risk assessment conducted by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) that was published at the end of February. Accor­ding to their report, there is no outdoor application of these three active ingre­dients that is safe for honeybees and other pollinators. In Germany, 14 pesti­cides with these active ingredients are currently authorized, e.g. for treating snow peas and fodder beet seeds.[1]

The corresponding implementing regulations from the Commission for the three active ingredients should go into effect 20 days after being published in the Offi­cial Journal of the European Union. After that, within three months, the Member States have to end the authorization for pesticides with these active ingredients or change them to correspond with the new provisions.[1]

At the GBA Laboratory Group Food Analysis Division, approximately 640 active ingredients are not only identifiable, but also quantifiable, and more are con­stantly being added. By actively participating in expert committees and sharing information at special events and conferences in the field, we always stay on track with the latest developments, continually adapting our analysis to the mar­ket demands. If you have any questions about this or any other topic in the field of food analysis, then please feel free to contact your individual customer service representative, or:

GBA Gesellschaft für Bioanalytik mbH
Ms. Mareen Lehmann
Tel: +49 (0)40 797172-0


[1] dv-dokument/DOC-bll-2018-078, Accessed on 09 April 2018


Information on the Implementation of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

by Sandra Schubert, GBA Laboratory Group

In order to create the same conditions for commercial activities among compa­nies on a European level, as well as to ensure all citizens the same data pro­tection framework, the European Commission has passed the General Data Protection Regulation, abbreviated as GDPR. This is valid starting on May 25th, 2018.

As has always been the case, we at the GBA Laboratory Group are committed to handling your data in a confidential manner. With the GDPR in effect, now more than ever there is a particular sensitivity for dealing with personal data. Processes that involve handling personal data are thus treated with the appro­priate level of care and diligence at the GBA Laboratory Group. Furthermore, we only use your data in order to fulfill the appropriate order and/or the contractual relationship. We do not forward your data to third parties for other purposes such as marketing.

We have updated and adapted our General Terms & Conditions as well as our Data Privacy Policy in order to correspond with the GDPR. 

Further information about data protection at the GBA Laboratory Group can be found at:

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