EU authority lowers the limit for dioxins in food

EU authority lowers the limit for dioxins in food

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) lowered its recommended limits in food of dioxins and related toxins.


New data and techniques for modeling how long dioxins stay in the body convinced EFSA that the maximum weekly intake should be cut to just 2 trillionths of a gram per kilogramme of body weight - one seventh the previous limit, set in 2001, Reuters reports.


Dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs are toxic chemicals that persist in the environment for years and accumulate at low levels in the food chain, usually in the fatty tissues of animals. Their presence in food and feed has declined in the last 30 years thanks to the efforts of public authorities and industry.


Risk assessment

The Panel has set a new tolerable weekly intake for dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs in food of 2 picograms per kilogram of body weight.“, commented Dr Ron Hoogenboom of the CONTAM Panel and chair of the dioxins working group.


The new TWI is seven-times lower than the previous EU tolerable intake set by the European Commission’s former Scientific Committee on Food in 2001.


Decreased semen quality


The new TWI is protective against effects on semen quality, the adverse health effect seen at the lowest levels of these contaminants in human blood,” Dr Hoogenboom added.

The TWI is also protective against other effects observed in studies with human subjects: lower sex ratio of sons to daughters, higher levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone in new-borns and developmental enamel defects on teeth.



Average dietary exposure 


The main contributors to average dietary exposure for most age groups in European countries are fish (in particular fatty fish), cheese and livestock meat, reads EFSA statement.