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EFSA confirms the exposure to dioxins and PCBs, present in low level in food and feed, is a problem to health.

EFSA recommends lower tolerable weekly dioxins and PCBs in food

  (EUROPEAN UNION, 11/22/2018)

The expert Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain (CONTAM) of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has recommended lowering the tolerable weekly intake (TWI) for dioxin and PCBs, environmental pollutants present at low levels in food and feed.

Dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs are toxic chemicals that persist in the environment for years and accumulate at low levels in the food chain, usually in the fatty tissues of animals. EFSA highlights that their presence in food and feed has declined in the last 30 years thanks to the efforts of public authorities and industry.

How dioxins affect the environment and human beings.(Photo: EFSA)

Fatty fish, together with eggs and meat,  are the main contributors for most age groups in European countries. 

After completing the Authority’s first comprehensive review of the risks to human and animal health from these substances in food and feed, CONTAM Panel set the new limit at 2 picograms per kilogram of body weight.

How dioxins affect the environment and human beings.(Photo: EFSA)

CONTAM panel member and chair of the dioxins working group Dr Ron Hoogenboom explained that the new TWI is seven-times lower than the previous EU tolerable intake set by the European Commission’s former Scientific Committee on Food in 2001.

Photo: EFSA 

“The main reasons for the decrease were the availability of new epidemiological and experimental animal data on the toxicity of these substances and more refined modelling techniques for predicting levels in the human body over time,” Dr Hoogenboom stressed.

The scientist stressed that the new TWI is protective against effects on semen quality, the adverse health effect seen at the lowest levels of these contaminants in human blood and against other effects observed in studies with human subjects: lower sex ratio of sons to daughters, higher levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone in new-borns and developmental enamel defects on teeth.

“Average and high exposures were, respectively, up to five and 15 times the new TWI in adolescents, adults and the elderly. Toddlers and other children up to 10 years of age had a similar range of exceedance of the TWI,” pointed out Dr Hoogenboom.

The Panel would support a review of the TEFs for both dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs in light of new scientific data. If confirmed to be less toxic, this would reduce the concern for consumers.

The European Commission and EU Member States will discuss risk management measures following EFSA’s scientific advice to ensure a high level of consumer protection.
 


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