Last updated on 15 October 2009
Survey of fluorinated chemicals in food
Food Survey Information Sheet: 05/09
Retail samples of a variety of foods on sale in the UK were analysed for a range of fluorinated chemicals, including perfluorooctane sulphonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). The results of this survey do not indicate any concern regarding human health from dietary exposure to these chemicals. The survey was carried out as part of the Agency’s commitment to investigating emerging risks to food safety.
PFOS has a variety of applications, including use as a water-repellent and in fire-fighting foams. However, because of concerns that it might be harmful, its manufacture and use has been gradually phased out. Earlier this year, PFOS was added to the list of chemicals of concern under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.
- PFOS, PFOA and related fluorinated chemicals were analysed in individual retail samples of fish, offal, meat, eggs, milk, dairy products, bread, cereals, popcorn, vegetables and jams.
- PFOS was found most frequently and at the highest concentrations in fish, liver and kidney. PFOS was not detected in any samples of meat, dairy products, potatoes, potato products, popcorn or other cereals, vegetable or fish oils.
- PFOA was found mainly at low concentrations in crab and liver.
- Based on the results, the estimated average adult dietary intakes in 2007 were 0.01 microgram/kg bodyweight/day for PFOS and 0.01 microgram/kg bodyweight/day for PFOA (upper bound figures). The respective high level adult dietary intakes were 0.02 and 0.02 microgram/kg bodyweight/day. These are well below the Tolerable Daily Intakes (TDIs) recently set by the European Food Safety Authority of 0.15 and 1.5 microgram/kg bodyweight/day for PFOS and PFOA respectively.
- The survey results do not raise any concerns for consumer health.