Food testing laboratories that are accredited and recognised to undertake chemical testing of foods can reliably test foods for contaminations. They also test foods for presence of persistent organic pollutants like dioxins as these pollutants pose a huge risk to human health and food safety.
Dioxins like Polychlorinated dib Enzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs) and polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs) are common contaminants that can cause a toxic response. These pollutants are known to give rise to
- reproductive and developmental problems
- damage to immune system
- interference in the working of hormones
- can be carcinogenic
Since most of the human exposure to dioxins is through foods, so FBOs partner with food testing laboratories in detecting and quantifying dioxins in products of animal origin. In fact food processors ensure that their meat, dairy and fish products are tested so that levels of dioxins are well within permitted limits in all products.
Dioxins are formed when organic compounds are incinerated in the presence of chlorine and these accumulate in the fatty tissues of animals.
In cows high levels of dioxins and PCBs can occur in milk fat, in cream and in products such as cheese and meat
In fish, high levels may be found in fatty tissues such as liver and as a result in fish liver oils.
Estimates suggest that up to 90% of human exposure to dioxins comes from consumption of foods of animal origin containing these contaminants. There is a negligible exposure from fruits and vegetables and about 10% from inhalation and ingestion of particles from air.
The presence of dioxins and PCBs in food has been a matter of concern for many years now. At the international level the Stockholm Convention has restricted dioxins in foods and feeds so all exported meat products must be safe and contain dioxins within the maximum permitted limits. All meat manufacturers and exporters of meat need to make efforts to limit human exposure to dioxins from foods. It is important to monitor the food supply by carrying out food testing especially where there is a potential risk of environmental exposure to these pollutants.
Food Testing Criteria
Dioxins are considered to be a by-product of industrial-chemical manufacturing as well as thermal processes. Since dioxins are considered to be harmful the food testing laboratories must be well-equipped to be able to detect their presence in foods even in minute quantities at trace levels. There is a strict criteria laid down for testing labs that test dioxins which means the food testing laboratory must be accredited and have the competencies and instrumentations to be able to determine the presence of dioxins in foods and feeds so they are within regulatory compliance.
Accurate Food Testing
The food testing must enable accurate identification and quantification of the pollutants in a particular sample of food. Dioxins and PCBs testing must therefore, be carried out in chemical food testing laboratories that can meet the criteria for such testing. The methods of sampling and analysis must ensure food testing that has
- High sensitivity
- Detection of low limits
- High specificity
- High accuracy