Perfluoroalkylated substances in food


Perfluoroalkylated substances, PFASs, PFOS, PFOA, occurrence, food, dietary exposure
First published in the EFSA Journal
6 June 2012
28 May 2012
Scientific Report of EFSA

Perfluoroalkylated substances (PFASs) are highly fluorinated aliphatic compounds with high thermal and chemical stability, as well as high surface activity. PFASs are used in a range of industrial and chemical applications e.g. textiles, paper, packaging materials, paint and varnish, and fire-extinguishing liquids. Several PFASs are recognised as environmentally persistent organic pollutants and are associated with adverse health effects. Diet is considered the main source of exposure to PFASs.  In 2008, the EFSA Scientific Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain (CONTAM Panel) performed a risk assessment for perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) concluding that it is unlikely that adverse effects of PFOS or PFOA are occurring in the general population. The CONTAM Panel acknowledged the limitation of available data and recommended further monitoring of PFAS in food. The present report summarises occurrence data for PFASs collected in 13 European countries during the period 2006 to 2012. A total of 54,195 analytical results covering a list of 27 substances were included in the assessment. The overall proportion of quantified results was very low. Across food groups, PFASs were found more frequently in fish and other seafood and in meat and meat products (liver in particular). For PFOS, the dietary exposure estimates in the adult population was < 3.5 % of the TDI for average consumers and < 6.7 % of the TDI in high consumers. For the same consumer groups, exposure to PFOA represented < 0.3 % and < 0.5 % of the TDI, respectively. Exposure in toddlers was two to three times higher compared to adults. For the other PFASs evaluated, daily dietary exposure was estimated to be in the low ng/kg b.w. range. The current review confirmed that dietary exposure to PFOS and PFOA is highly unlikely to exceed health-based guidance values.

dcm [at]
EFSA Journal 2012;10(6):2743 [55 pp.].
European Food Safety Authority
Question Number
On request from
European Commission
Print on demand
Number of Pages