Results of the monitoring of perfluoroalkylated substances in food in the period 2000 - 2009

Perfluoroalkylated substances, PFAS, PFOS, PFOA, occurrence, food
First published in the EFSA Journal
11 February 2011
9 February 2011
Scientific Report of EFSA

Perfluoroalkylated substances (PFASs) are a large group of compounds consisting of a fully or partially fluorinated hydrophobic alkyl chain and a hydrophilic end group. Due to their thermal and chemical stability they are used in e.g. cleaning agents, impregnation agents for textiles, carpets, paper, packaging, furniture, paint and varnish, fire-extinguishing liquids, wax, floor polishing agents. Several PFASs are recognised as generally persistent in the environment and are associated with a broad spectrum of health effects. Human exposure may result through e.g. consumption of contaminated food, beverages and inhalation. The European Commission issued the Commission Recommendation 2010/161/EU on the monitoring of PFASs in food in the Member States. Member States were recommended to monitor the presence of PFASs in food during the years 2010 and 2011. Data obtained, as well as data collected in the previous years, was required to be submitted to EFSA for assessment. A total of 4,881 samples collected in previous years (2000 – 2009) in seven Member States was considered for a detailed data analysis. Data were reported on different sets of 17 PFASs resulting in 24,204 single observations. Overall, only 11.8 % of the results were quantifiable results. Perfluorooctane sulfonate was the most frequent compound (31 %). Across food groups, PFASs were mostly found in ‘Fish offal’ (68 %), ‘Edible offal, game animals’ (64%), ‘Meat, game mammals’ (22 %), ‘Water molluscs’ (20 %), ‘Crustaceans’ (17 %) and ‘Fish meat’ (9.7 %). The highest contamination both in terms of frequency and mean level was found in meat and edible offal of game animals, fish and seafood, whereas meat and edible offal of farmed animals resulted less contaminated. To ensure an accurate assessment of the presence of PFASs in food and beverages, further improvement of the analytical methods, sampling and data reporting are recommended.

European Food Safety Authority
datex [at]
EFSA Journal 2011;9(2):2016 [34 pp.].
Question Number
On request from
European Commission