Heavy metals represent the fourth most often notified hazard category in the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) from 1980–2016. The goal of the study was to examine the similarities in notifications of particular heavy metals within the RASFF year, product category, notifying country, country of origin, notification basis, notification type, distribution status, risk decision, and action taken, taking into account the particular product type, such as food, food contact material, and feed. The data originated from the RASFF database. Cluster analysis on pivot tables was applied using joining and two-way joining methods. Most notifications concerned food, in which the highest number were related to mercury, cadmium, chromium, lead, arsenic, and nickel. Notifications were mainly related to fish and food contact materials, in addition to fruits and vegetables, seafood, and dietetic food. The number of notifications decreased in 2015 and 2016. The majority of products were notified by Italy, Spain, Germany, and France. The notified products originated mainly from China and Spain. The notification was usually based on official controls on the market, as well as border controls. The notification types were mainly information, alert, and border rejections. Products were not frequently distributed due to distribution restriction to the notifying country or the possibility of distribution to the market. A risk decision was not usually made. The taken actions included re-dispatch of products, withdrawal from the market, or destruction. The data on heavy metals from the RASFF database can help European and national authorities in shaping public health.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited