• Open Access

Results of the monitoring of non dioxin-like PCBs in food and feed


  • European Food Safety Authority

  • Correspondence: datex@efsa.europa.eu
  • Acknowledgement: EFSA wishes to thank the EFSA's staff members Valeriu Curtui, Alessandro Carletti, Pietro Ferrari and Stefan Fabiansson for the support provided to this EFSA scientific output. Special thanks to Peter Fürst, and Alexander Kotz for their valuable comments.
  • Approval date: 22 July 2010
  • Published date: 30 July 2010
  • Question number: EFSA-Q-2010-00970
  • On request from: EFSA


Non dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls (NDL PCBs) are persistent organic chemicals that accumulate in the environment and humans and are associated with a broad spectrum of health effects. Processing and distribution of PCBs has been prohibited in almost all industrial countries since the late 1980s but they still can be released into the environment from electrical appliances, building paint and sealants and waste sites that contain PCBs. In 2002 the European Commission prescribed a list of actions to be taken to reduce the presence of dioxins and PCBs in food and feed and Member States were recommended to monitor the situation. A total of 12,563 food and feed samples collected in the period 1995 2008 from 18 EU Member States, Iceland and Norway were retained for a detailed analysis of the occurrence of the six indicator NDL PCBs (# 28, 52, 101, 138, 153, and 180). Overall, 18.8% of the results for single congeners were below the limit of quantification (LOQ) but their distribution varied highly between food and feed groups. PCB-153 and PCB 138 were the most commonly detected congeners. In food, the highest mean contamination level was observed in fish and fish derived products followed by eggs, milk and their products, and meat and meat products from terrestrial animals. The lowest contamination was observed in foods of plant origin. A similar pattern was observed in feed where high contamination was reported in feed containing fish derived products and comparatively very low levels in feed of plant or mineral origin. The sum of the six NDL-PCBs was on average close to five times higher than the sum of the 12 dioxin-like PCBs. This relationship varied across food groups and is presumably related to the origin of samples and the contamination source. Country specific clustering has been observed in several food and feed groups.