Statement of EFSA on the possible risks for public and animal health from the contamination of the feed and food chain due to possible ash-fall following the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland.
Following a request from the European Commission, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) issued a scientific advice on the possible short-term risks for food and feed safety including drinking water, in the wake of the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland on 14 April 2010. Due to a lack of data on the composition of this ash-fall from the volcano in the European Union (EU), EFSA focused on fluoride, a substance identified in most publications on past volcanic eruptions as the main component that could pose a short-term risk to food and feed safety. Dietary exposure to fluoride in volcanic ash to humans and fish is usually through contaminated drinking water and for animals, such as cattle and sheep, through eating ash deposited on grass and soil. In this assessment several uncertainties were identified such as the dispersal of ash in the air and how much ash has fallen in EU. Based on the available data, the potential risk posed by fluoride in volcanic ash through contamination of drinking water, fruit, vegetables, fish, milk, meat and feed in the EU is negligible. Therefore, the risk for human and animal health through consumption of food and feed is not to be of concern in the EU. As further EU monitoring data becomes available for volcanic ash deposition levels and ash composition, risks associated with the components of the volcanic ash-fall should be re-evaluated, if the data indicates that toxicological thresholds have been exceeded.