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EU to Warn on Potential Health Risk of Dioxins, Furans and PCBs in Foods and Feeds
On 3 December 2013, European Union (EU) Commission Recommendation 2011/516/EU (1) was replaced by Commission Recommendation 2013/711/EU (2).
PCBs Defined as Contamination Sources in Feed and Food
Polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs), poly chlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs), and dioxin-like poly chlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are toxic contaminants that cause immunological system damage and cancer in humans. Here the term of dioxins refers to the sum of PCDDs and PCDFs. Dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs are very persistent and widely distributed in the environment and food chains. Ingestion via food consumption is the main route for human exposure. Recently, several dioxin crises occurred in food products such as poultry, pork, beef, eggs, and seafood resulting in huge economic losses. The contamination came from feed contaminated with these compounds. Due to their lipophilic properties, dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs accumulate in fatty animal tissue and the liver.
Maximum Level of PCBs and Dioxins
To protect the health of consumers, the EU has established maximum levels for dioxins and sum of dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs for foods by Commission Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 (3) and for feeds by Directive 2002/32/EC (4). Furthermore, in order to stimulate a proactive approach to reduce the presence of dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs in food and feed Commission Recommendation 2011/516/EU set action levels as an early warning. The unit of action levels of dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs are expressed as toxic equivalents (WHO-TEQ) according to World Health Organization (WHO) toxic equivalency factor (TEF) scheme (5). The Recommendation 2011/516/EU was now replaced by Commission Recommendation 2013/711/EU. It recommends an additional focus on several products to be monitored. The additional action levels of the updated food products are listed in Table 1(http://newsletter.sgs.com/
- Initiate investigation and identification of contaminated sources
- Reduce or eliminate the source of contamination
- Submit all the occurrence data of dioxin and DL-PCBs in food and feed to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)
- Inform the Commission and the other Member states about their findings, the results of their investigation, and the measures taken to reduce or eliminate the source of contamination.
(1) Commission Recommendation of 23 August 2011 on the reduction of the presence of dioxins, furans and PCBs in feed and food(2011/516/
(2) Commission Recommendation of 3 December 2013on the reduction of the presence of dioxins, furans and PCBs in feed and food (2013/711/EU)
(3) Commission Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 of 19 December 2006 setting maximum levels for certain contaminants in foodstuffs (OJ L 364, 20.12.2006, p. 5)
(4) Directive 2002/32/EC of The European Parliament and of the Council of 7 May 2002 on undesirable substances in animal feed
(5) Scientific Opinion on the presence of dioxins (PCDD/Fs) and dioxin - like PCBs (DL - PCBs) in commercially available foods for infants and young children
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