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Update of the monitoring of levels of dioxins and PCBs in food and feed

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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.