Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Some cheeses exceed contaminant levels recommended by EU

19.02.2013
Researchers at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (Spain) have analysed more than 60 brands of cheese commonly available in supermarkets.

The concentration of organochloride contaminants in the majority of the samples was lower than levels set by European legislation, but in a few cases it was higher. The scientists recommend that an eye is kept on polychlorinated biphenyls as they are carcinogenic. The majority of these compound concentrations appeared in organic cheeses.

"In general, chloride contaminant residue levels were low in the cheese samples that we analysed, complying with limits set out by Spanish and European legislation, except in a few cases," as explained to SINC by Luis Domínguez-Boada and Octavio Pérez-Luzardo, those in charge of the Environment and Health Research Group (Toxicology Unit) of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

For more than a year, a team at the university analysed 61 common brands of cheese (54 conventional and 7 organic) and they found that in a small amount the 'dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls' (dioxin-like PCBs or DL-PCBs) exceeded EU-established levels.

Recommendations state that levels of this contaminant should not exceed 3 picograms WHO-TEQ per gram of cheese fat, but in some samples up to 76 pg WHO-TEQ/g were detected. The TEQ (toxic equivalent) value is a toxicity measurement promoted by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

This organisation also recommends that 'tolerable daily intake' is lower than 2 pg WHO-TEQ of dioxins and dioxin-like compounds per kilogram of body weight. "But if the most contaminated brands of cheese are consumed then this quantity could be exceeded, thus implying an increased possibility of harmful health effects," warns Doctor Domínguez-Boada.

The risks caused by the continued intake of chloride contaminants have not yet been unequivocally confirmed but their carcinogenicity and mutagenicity are known, or in other words how they can cause cancer and induce DNA mutations, respectively. It is also known that they act as endocrine disruptors that alter our delicate hormonal balance.

These compounds also have a negative effect on the metabolism. In fact they are diabetogenic and obesogenic, which means excess intake increases the risk of suffering from diabetes and obesity.

Transferable Results

A total of 100% of analysed samples had quantifiable levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Published in the 'Food and Chemical Toxicology' journal, the results according to the authors can be extrapolated to cheese in the rest of Spain and Europe since common brands sold in any supermarket were analysed.

But how do these harmful substances end up in cheeses? The organochloride compounds make up the pesticides and contaminating emissions from industry. From here they are then transferred to the environment and end up in the milk of animals.

In the case of the PCBs, their use was prohibited in the 1970s but they are stable molecules that have survived since then. One of the most surprising results of the study is that the highest concentrations of these substances have been found in organic cheeses but are marketed as being more ecological and healthier.

According to the authors, the explanation lies in the fact that they come from very industrialised countries (the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany) where polychlorinated biphenyls are present in the environment despite them being banned.

"Contaminating doesn't come free," reminds Domínguez-Boada, who wonders whether the removal of old devices with PCBs, such as many electrical transformers, is being done in a controlled fashion across the whole world.

In any case, the researcher believes that in the next few years the PCBs will gradually disappear from ecological cheeses, "but this is not the case for the pesticides in conventional cheeses unless measures are taken."

The authors recommend that an assessment is conducted on the presence of these ubiquitous toxic substances in the environment with the aim of establishing control measures like those outlined in the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants backed by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

"Food controls should also be increased, assessing the presence of all harmful chemical residues regardless of whether or not they are banned or used in the dairy sector. Those brands or batches with high pollutant levels that pose a risk to the consumer can then be withdrawn from the market."

The researchers declare that the study has no conflict of interest and that on this occasion they have not concentrated on what brands are the most polluted. "At the moment this consists of a specific study displaying the presence of organochloride toxic compounds in our cheeses," says Pérez-Luzardo. "The results can vary according to batch and over time. A more of a long-term study is therefore required to confirm if the same brand always has the same levels."

In Western countries it is calculated that around 30% of organochloride pollutant intake comes from dairy products due to their high fat content. The rest comes above all from fish but it has also been detected in meat and eggs.

References:

Maira Almeida-González, Octavio P. Luzardo, Manuel Zumbado, Ángel Rodríguez-Hernández, Norberto Ruiz-Suárez, Marta Sangil, María Camacho, Luis A. Henríquez-Hernández, Luis D. Boada. "Levels of organochlorine contaminants in organic and conventional cheeses and their impact on the health of consumers: An independent study in the Canary Islands (Spain)". Food and Chemical Toxicology 50: 4325, December 2012.

SINC | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.agenciasinc.es

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Millions through license revenues
27.04.2017 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

nachricht New High-Performance Center Translational Medical Engineering
26.04.2017 | Fraunhofer ITEM

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>