Toxic potency of polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins, polychlorinated dibenzofurans, and polychlorinated biphenyls in food samples from Catalonia (Spain)

J Agric Food Chem. 2002 Feb 27;50(5):1161-7. doi: 10.1021/jf011021v.


A surveillance program on polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs), polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs), and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in 29 foodstuff samples produced all over the four provinces in Catalonia (Spain) is presented. The study included the analyses of milk, egg, meat (beef, chicken, and pork), mussel, and olive oil samples. A previously developed method for the simultaneous analysis of the 2,3,7,8-substituted PCDDs/PCDFs and the dioxin-like PCBs, as well as the indicator PCBs, was employed. Total toxicity equivalent (TEQ) values were calculated using the toxicity equivalent factors (TEFs) proposed by the World Health Organization (WHO) for dioxin-like PCBs, PCDDs, and PCDFs. The TEQ(PCDD/F) levels were below the limits proposed in the draft of the EC regulation for food commercialization in the European countries. These limits are the following: 2 pg WHO-TEQ/g fat for pork, 3 pg WHO-TEQ/g fat for milk and chicken, 5 pg WHO-TEQ/g fat for egg and beef, and 3 pg WHO-TEQ/g whole product for fish. The contributions of PCDDs/Fs and dioxin-like PCBs in the total toxicity of the samples were calculated for each matrix. The results showed that the TEQ(PCB) contribution varied from 27% in olive oil samples to 81% in mussel samples. These findings suggest that the regulation of TEQ contents in food should include not only the TEQ(PCDD/F), but also the TEQ(PCB).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / chemistry
  • Animals
  • Benzofurans / analysis*
  • Benzofurans / toxicity
  • Cattle
  • Chickens
  • Dibenzofurans, Polychlorinated
  • Eggs / analysis
  • Environmental Pollutants / analysis
  • Environmental Pollutants / toxicity
  • Food Contamination / analysis*
  • Meat / analysis
  • Milk / chemistry
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / analysis*
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / toxicity
  • Polychlorinated Dibenzodioxins / analogs & derivatives*
  • Polychlorinated Dibenzodioxins / analysis*
  • Polychlorinated Dibenzodioxins / toxicity
  • Soil Pollutants / analysis
  • Soil Pollutants / toxicity
  • Spain
  • Swine


  • Benzofurans
  • Dibenzofurans, Polychlorinated
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Polychlorinated Dibenzodioxins
  • Soil Pollutants
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls