Assessment of a decontamination process for dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs in fish oil by physical filtration with activated carbon

decontamination process, feed, dioxins, PCDD/Fs, dioxin-like PCBs, fish oil, physical filtration
First published in the EFSA Journal
31 July 2017
4 July 2017
Scientific Opinion


Following a request from the European Commission, the EFSA Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain (CONTAM) provided a scientific opinion on the assessment of a decontamination process consisting in the adsorption with activated carbon and physical filtration of fish oil in order to reduce the amount of dioxins (polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs) and polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs)) and dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls (DL-PCBs). All feed decontamination processes must comply with the acceptability criteria specified in the Commission Regulation (EU) 2015/786. The data provided by the feed business operator were assessed with respect to the efficacy of the process and on information demonstrating that the process does not adversely affect the characteristics and the nature of the product. As described in scientific literature, the process was effective in removing PCDD/Fs (84%) and DL-PCBs (55%), and therefore, it is possible to meet the current EU requirements with respect to these contaminants, assuming that the level of contamination of untreated fish oil was within the range of the tested batches. The Panel considered that the reference to information available in published literature was a pragmatic approach to demonstrate that the use of activated carbon adsorption does not lead to any detrimental changes in the nature of the fish oil; however, it was noted that the process could deplete some beneficial constituents (e.g. vitamins). Information was provided to demonstrate the safe disposal of the waste material. The CONTAM Panel concluded that on the basis of the information submitted by the feed business operator the proposed decontamination process to remove dioxins (PCDD/Fs) and DL-PCBs from the fish oil by means of physical filtration with activated carbon, was compliant with the acceptability criteria provided for in Commission Regulation (EU) 2015/786 of 19 May 2015.

Panel members at the time of adoption

Jan Alexander, Lars Barregård, Margherita Bignami, Beat Brueschweiler, Sandra Ceccatelli, Bruce Cottrill, Michael Dinovi, Lutz Edler, Bettina Grasl-Kraupp, Christer Hogstrand, Laurentius (Ron) Hoogenboom, Helle Katrine Knutsen, Carlo Stefano Nebbia, Isabelle P. Oswald, Annette Petersen, Martin Rose, Alain-Claude Roudot, Tanja Schwerdtle, Christiane Vleminckx, Günter Vollmer and Heather Wallace.
Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain
contam [at]
EFSA Journal 2017;15(7):4961
Question Number
On request from
European Commission