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 Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution
09.12.2016 | Veterans Affairs Research Communications

nachricht Oxygen can wake up dormant bacteria for antibiotic attacks
08.12.2016 | Penn State

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: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>