Scientific Opinion on Chloramphenicol in food and feed
Chloramphenicol is an antibiotic not authorised for use in food-producing animals in the European Union (EU). However, being produced by soil bacteria, it may occur in plants. The European Commission asked EFSA for a scientific opinion on the risks to human and animal health related to the presence of chloramphenicol in food and feed and whether a reference point for action (RPA) of 0.3 μg/kg is adequate to protect public and animal health. Data on occurrence of chloramphenicol in food extracted from the national residue monitoring plan results and from the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) were too limited to carry out a reliable human dietary exposure assessment. Instead, human dietary exposure was calculated for a scenario in which chloramphenicol is present at 0.3 μg/kg in all foods of animal origin, foods containing enzyme preparations and foods which may be contaminated naturally. The mean chronic dietary exposure for this worst-case scenario would range from 11 to 17 and 2.2 to 4.0 ng/kg b.w. per day for toddlers and adults, respectively. The potential dietary exposure of livestock to chloramphenicol was estimated to be below 1 μg/kg b.w. per day. Chloramphenicol is implicated in the generation of aplastic anaemia in humans and causes reproductive/hepatotoxic effects in animals. Margins of exposure for these effects were calculated at 2.7 × 105 or greater and the CONTAM Panel concluded that it is unlikely that exposure to food contaminated with chloramphenicol at or below 0.3 μg/kg is a health concern for aplastic anaemia or reproductive/hepatotoxic effects. Chloramphenicol exhibits genotoxicity but, owing to the lack of data, the risk of carcinogenicity cannot be assessed. The CONTAM Panel concluded that, when applied to feed, the current RPA is also sufficiently protective for animal health and for public health, arising from residues in animal derived products.