The interdepartmental Steering Group on Chemical Aspects of Food Surveillance (SGCAFS) looked at the food safety and animal health aspects and a jointly commissioned Independent Scientific Committee chaired by Professor Bradshaw looked at soil fertility.
The Steering Group concentrated on lead, cadmium and copper and concluded that the statutory limits in sludge-amended soils adequately protect the food supply from contamination by these elements.
Further work is underway on levels of potentially toxic elements in tissues of animals grazing on sludge-amended pastures and the Steering Group recommended that the situation should be reviewed when the results from these studies are available. The Steering Group also recommended that continued efforts should be made to reduce the input of metals into agricultural land from all sources, including sewage sludge.
Recommendations were made for further research in order to improve the robustness of information for reviewing soil metal limits. The Committee strongly recommended increased efforts to reduce inputs of heavy metals into sewage and supported the further consideration of reducing heavy metal inputs to agricultural land from other sources.
The report from the Steering Group on Chemical Aspects of Food Surveillance (price £2.50) and the report from the Independent Scientific Committee (price £3.50) are available from MAFF Publications, London SE99 7TP or by telephoning 081-694-8862.