Update of the monitoring of levels of dioxins and PCBs in food and feed
Dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are environmentally persistent substances that have been associated with human health effects. Their presence in food and feed available on the European market is monitored. A total of 13,797 samples were assessed for dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs (DL-PCBs) and 19,181 samples for non dioxin-like PCBs (NDL-PCBs). These samples were submitted between 1995 and 2010 by 26 European countries. At least one quantified congener of dioxins and DL-PCBs was found in almost all samples, whereas at least one NDL-PCB indicator was quantified in 68.4 % of the feed and 82.6 % of the food samples. “Meat from eels” and “Fish liver and derived products” contained the highest average contamination levels of both dioxins and PCBs. Levels of dioxins and DL-PCBs, and of NDL-PCBs were above the permitted maximum levels in respectively 10 % and 3 % of the food samples. Depending on the population group, defined as the combination of age class and the respective survey, average exposure to dioxins and DL-PCBs was estimated to be between 0.57 and 2.54 pg TEQWHO05/kg b.w. per day and the 95th percentile between 1.2 and 9.9 pg TEQWHO05/kg b.w. per day. Average exposure to NDL-PCB indicators was estimated to be between 4.3 and 25.7 ng/kg b.w. per day and the 95th percentile between 7.8 and 53.7 ng/kg b.w. per day. Fish, meat and dairy products appeared to be the highest contributing food groups to dietary exposure. Their relative importance depended on age and country of the consumer. A general decrease in dietary exposure of dioxins and DL-PCBs was observed between 2002-2004 and 2008-2010, estimated to be between 16.6 % and 79.3 % for the different population groups. A smaller decrease was observed for NDL-PCBs. Full compliance with legislative requirements for analysis and reporting would facilitate future Europe-wide risk assessments.