European developments following incidents with dioxins and PCBs in the food and feed chain

Ron Hoogenboom, Wim Traag, Alwyn Fernandes, Martin Rose

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Incidents with dioxins and PCBs have resulted in a strategy within the EU to reduce the exposure of the population to these compounds. Maximum levels were set for food and feed products and criteria were developed for the analytical methods (both confirmatory and screening) used for official control measurements. Ideally, any analysis performed with the aim of comparing the result with the legal limits should be performed according to these criteria. It should also apply to monitoring, performed to estimate human exposure and trend analysis rather than compliance with limits, since risk assessments and EU-policies rely heavily on these data.

In recent years, analytical capacity has largely increased to complement the additional testing. In line with the responsibility of producers for the safety of their products, self-control has strongly increased and has played an important role in the discovery of several of the incidents. However, the increased monitoring seems not to have resulted in a clear further decrease in the levels reported for food and feed in the last decade. This may in part be due to a lack of follow up when elevated levels (above action levels) are found, which would lead to a reduction of output from remaining sources. It may also be related to the sensitivity of applied methods and the data collected in databases.

This paper reviews the incidents and developments that have taken place within the EU over the last 15 years in the area of dioxins and PCBs, including the role of applying screening and confirmatory methods for achieving the desired further reduction in the levels.
Original languageUndefined
Pages (from-to)670-683
Number of pages14
JournalFood Control
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Dioxins
  • PCBs
  • Official control

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