Risk for animal and human health related to the presence of dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs in feed and food

Helle Katrine Knutsen, Jan Alexander, Lars Barregård, Margherita Bignami, Beat Brüschweiler, Sandra Ceccatelli, Bruce Cottrill, Michael Dinovi, Lutz Edler, Bettina Grasl-Kraupp, Christer Hogstrand, Carlo Stefano Nebbia, Isabelle P Oswald, Annette Petersen, Martin Rose, Alain-Claude Roudot, Tanja Schwerdtle, Christiane Vleminckx, Günter Vollmer, Heather WallacePeter Fürst, Helen Håkansson, Thorhallur Halldorsson, Anne-Katrine Lundebye, Raimo Pohjanvirta, Lars Rylander, Andrew Smith, Henk van Loveren, Ine Waalkens-Berendsen, Marco Zeilmaker, Marco Binaglia, José Ángel Gómez Ruiz, Zsuzsanna Horváth, Eugen Christoph, Laura Ciccolallo, Luisa Ramos Bordajandi, Hans Steinkellner, Laurentius (Ron) Hoogenboom, EFSA Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain (CONTAM)

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The European Commission asked EFSA for a scientific opinion on the risks for animal and human health related to the presence of dioxins (PCDD/Fs) and DL-PCBs in feed and food. The data from experimental animal and epidemiological studies were reviewed and it was decided to base the human risk assessment on effects observed in humans and to use animal data as supportive evidence. The critical effect was on semen quality, following pre- and postnatal exposure. The critical study showed a NOAEL of 7.0 pg WHO2005-TEQ/g fat in blood sampled at age 9 years based on PCDD/F-TEQs. No association was observed when including DL-PCB-TEQs. Using toxicokinetic modelling and taking into account the exposure from breastfeeding and a twofold higher intake during childhood, it was estimated that daily exposure in adolescents and adults should be below 0.25 pg TEQ/kg bw/day. The CONTAM Panel established a TWI of 2 pg TEQ/kg bw/week. With occurrence and consumption data from European countries, the mean and P95 intake of total TEQ by Adolescents, Adults, Elderly and Very Elderly varied between, respectively, 2.1 to 10.5, and 5.3 to 30.4 pg TEQ/kg bw/week, implying a considerable exceedance of the TWI. Toddlers and Other Children showed a higher exposure than older age groups, but this was accounted for when deriving the TWI. Exposure to PCDD/F-TEQ only was on average 2.4- and 2.7-fold lower for mean and P95 exposure than for total TEQ. PCDD/Fs and DL-PCBs are transferred to milk and eggs, and accumulate in fatty tissues and liver. Transfer rates and bioconcentration factors were identified for various species. The CONTAM Panel was not able to identify reference values in most farm and companion animals with the exception of NOAELs for mink, chicken and some fish species. The estimated exposure from feed for these species does not imply a risk.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere05333
Number of pages331
JournalEFSA Journal
Issue number11
Early online date20 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018

Bibliographical note

EFSA wishes to thank the Working Group members: Manolis Kogevinas (until 14 September 2016), George Loizou (until 23 January 2017), and the hearing experts: Matteo Bonzini, Jane Burns, Claude Emond, Aleksander Giwercman, Russ Hauser, Lidia Mínguez‐Alarcón and Paolo Mocarelli, for the support provided to this scientific output. The CONTAM Panel acknowledges all European competent institutions and other stakeholders that provided occurrence data on PCDD/Fs and DL‐PCBs in food and feed, and supported the data collection for the Comprehensive European Food Consumption Database.


  • Dioxins
  • PCDD/Fs
  • DL-PCBs
  • food
  • feed
  • risk assessment
  • transfer


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