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New Study Examines PCB Contamination In The Food Supply

A study released by The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) examined which foods contained the highest levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)

a man cleaning a fish

Photo: mungobah (flickr)

Fish were found to contain the highest levels of PCBs, most likely due to contamination of lakes and rivers.

A study released by The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) examined over 11,000 food samples from 1999 to 2008 to look at which foods contained the highest levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

PCBs can be harmful to humans if they accumulate in the body. The International Agency for Research on Cancer says that PCBs are most likely carcinogenic.

PCBs are no longer produced, but large amounts remain present in electrical, plastic building materials. These PCBs are easily spread into the environment, including into animal feed and ultimately, the food we eat.

The EFSA study found that these foods had some of the highest contamination levels:

  • Fish
  • Animal Products
  • Raw milk
  • Dairy Products
  • Egg Products

On the other end of the spectrum, foods with the lowest (safest) levels of PCBs were:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables

This does not mean, for instance, that all fish is dangerous to eat. However, the more that is known about the spread of PCBs, the easier it will be to prevent its spread into the food supply, making our diets healthier and safer.

The EFSA plans to continue random testing in the future to monitor PCB contamination in the food supply.

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Molly Plunkett

Molly Plunkett is a journalism student at Indiana University and an online producer for Earth Eats. She is originally from Wheaton, IL.

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