PARMA, ITALY – A new report on the levels of non dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls (P.C.B.s) in food and animal feed has been published by the European Food Safety Authority. In 2002, the European Commission issued a list of actions to be taken to reduce the presence of dioxins and P.C.B.s in food and feed and recommended member states monitor the situation.

In the study most recently published, E.F.S.A. said the highest contamination levels were found in several fish and fish products followed by animal products, such as raw milk, dairy products, eggs and egg products. The lowest levels were found in fruit and vegetables. Similarly, the highest levels of contamination in animal feed were found in feed containing fish derived products, such as fish oil.

Prepared by E.F.S.A.’s Data Collection and Exposure unit (D.A.T.E.X.), the study is based on a total of 11,214 food and 1,349 feed samples collected from 18 E.U. member states, Iceland and Norway between 1999 and 2008. It follows a report on dioxins and dioxin-like P.C.B.s published earlier in 2010.

P.C.B.s are a widespread class of persistent organic chemicals that accumulate in the environment and in humans and they are associated with a broad spectrum of health effects. Despite the fact that the production and use of P.C.B.s have been discontinued in most countries since the 1980s, large amounts remain in electrical equipment, plastic products and building materials.

P.C.B.s can be released into the environment and people are exposed to them mainly through food, with the exception of specific cases of accidental or occupational exposure. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified P.C.B.s as probably carcinogenic to humans. E.F.S.A.’s Panel on Contaminants in the food chain carried out a risk assessment on the presence of non dioxin-like P.C.B.s in feed and food in 2005.

E.F.S.A. recommends continuous random testing of a sufficient number of samples in each food and feed group in order to ensure accurate assessment and monitoring of the presence of P.C.B.s in the food chain.