PFAS, per- and plyfluoroalkyl substances, are a family of nearly 5,000 synthetic chemicals. PFAS are chemical substances that highly persist in the environment and in humans.
The most known are PFOS (Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid) and PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic acid), these and other PFAS are widely used in industrial and domestic applications thanks to their chemical fluorine-carbon bond, which confers its stability and oil repellent properties.
PFAS can contaminate food products from many sources:
- soil and water used in the field,
- animals who accumulate PFAS from water and feed,
- packaging and food contact materials.
Given the possibility of human exposure to these emerging contaminants in food, the European Commission in 2010 defined guidelines for the monitoring of PFAS in food and EFSA in 2020 published the second Scientific Opinion on the risk of the presence of PFAS in food for humans.
Up to now, therefore, there are no binding and harmonized limits.
The European Commission is evaluating the proposal to amend the Regulation (EC) 1881/2006 regarding the maximum limits of PFAS in some foodstuffs.
Moreover, a new Recommendation draft on the monitoring of PFAS in food is in progress.
- There is a lack of data to define maximum limits for same categories of foods, such as infant formulas and baby food.
- Several laboratories are unable to determine PFAS at low concentrations.
- The occurrence data on PFAS other than PFOA and PFOS are missing.
Are we ready?
Mérieux NutriSciences has a long experience on PFAS and takes regularly part to expert task forces. Moreover, we deal with stakeholders and working groups on PFAS.
Currently, our laboratories are able to detect and quantify PFAS in several food and non-food matrices at very low quantification limits, reaching 0.005 μg/kg in liquid milk for the determination of PFOA, PFHxS, PFNA, and PFOS.
In view of the new Commission Recommendation on the monitoring of PFAS on food, we are working to further improve the analytical methods to ensure high levels of food safety to our customers and final consumers.