Tracing and analytical results of the dioxin contamination incident in 2008 originating from the Republic of Ireland

L. Heres, R. Hoogenboom, R. Herbes, W.A. Traag, H.A.P. Urlings

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

High levels of dioxins (PCDD/Fs) in pork were discovered in France and the Netherlands at the end of 2008. The contamination was rapidly traced back to a feed stock in the Republic of Ireland (RoI). Burning oil, used for the drying of bakery waste, appeared to be contaminated with PCBs. Consequently, very high levels up to 500 pg TEQ g-1 fat were found in pork. The congener pattern clearly pointed to PCB-oil as a source, but the ratio between the non-dioxin-like indicator PCBs (PCBs 28, 52, 101, 138, 152 and 180) and PCDD/Fs was much lower than observed during the Belgian incident, thereby limiting the suitability of indicator PCBs as a marker for the presence of dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs. This paper describes the tracking and tracing of the incident, the public-private cooperation, the surveillance activities and its results. A major lesson to be learned from this incident is the importance of good private food safety systems. In this incident, it was the private surveillance systems that identified the origin of contamination within 10 days after the first signal of increased dioxin levels in a product. On the other hand, retrospective analyses showed that signals were missed that could have led to an earlier detection of the incident and the source. Above all, the incident would not have occurred when food safety assurance systems had been effectively implemented in the involved feed chain. It is discussed that besides primary responsibility for effective private food safety systems, the competent authorities have to supervise whether the food safety procedures are capable of coping with these kinds of complex food safety issues, while private food companies need to implement the law, and public authorities should supervise and enforce them. Finally, it is discussed whether the health risks derived from consumption of the contaminated batches of meat may have been underestimated during the incident due to the unusually high intake of dioxins. Keywords: traceability; risk assessment; screening assays; regulations; dioxins; TEQs; PCBs; meat; animal feed; animal products; ingredients
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1733-1744
JournalFood Additives & Contaminants. Pt. A, Chemistry, Analysis, Control, Exposure & Risk Assessment
Volume27
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2010

Keywords

  • long-evans rats
  • 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin tcdd
  • exposure

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Tracing and analytical results of the dioxin contamination incident in 2008 originating from the Republic of Ireland'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this