EFSA: No concern for this single event

by Editor fleischwirtschaft.com
Thursday, December 11, 2008

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) sees no concern for human health with regard to dioxins in Irish pork.

During routine monitoring of Irish pork, elevated levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were found in pork. Further investigations revealed the presence of dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs at levels up to 200 pg WHO-TEQ/g fat.

The toxicity of dioxins is related to the amount accumulated in the body during a lifetime, the so-called body burden. A tolerable weekly intake (TWI) of 14 pg WHO-TEQ/kg body weight (b.w.) has been established by the Scientific Committee on Food (SCF) in 2001.

EFSA has based this statement on a limited data set, assuming that the average person has an exposure at the TWI corresponding to a body burden of 4000 pg/kg body weight. EFSA also assumed that exposure at these high levels only began in September 2008.

EFSA calculated several exposure scenarios for both average and high consumers assuming three different dioxin concentrations in the pork (50, 100, 200 pg WHO-TEQ/g fat), and three different proportions of contaminated meat (100, 10 and 1%).

Assuming a daily consumption of 100% contaminated Irish pork, for a high consumption of pork fat during the respective period of the incidence (90 days), at the highest recorded concentration of dioxins (200 pg WHO-TEQ/g fat), EFSA concludes that the uncertainty factor embedded in the TWI is considerably eroded. Given that the TWI has a 10-fold built-in uncertainty factor, EFSA considers that this unlikely scenario would reduce protection, but not necessarily lead to adverse health effects.

In a more likely scenario with a daily consumption of 10% contaminated Irish pork for a mean consumption of pork fat for the respective period of the incidence (90 days), at the highest recorded concentration of dioxins (200 pg WHO-TEQ/g fat), the body burden would increase by approximately 10% EFSA considers this increase in body burden of no concern for this single event.
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