06:10am Saturday 14 December 2019

Environmental Contaminants in Food and Drink

illustration photo - fish The highest concentrations were found in fish and fish liver. The estimated dietary intake of PFC is 100-2500 times lower than the tolerable daily intake recommended by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

Over the last 50 years, PFCs have been used in a variety of products such as lubricants, paints, food packaging, impregnation of textiles and fire-extinguishing foam.

Concern about the use of these substances arose at the turn of the century when a substance known as perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) was found in human blood and in wildlife around the world, including the Arctic.

As a result there has been a lot of research on this group of environmental pollutants. Animal studies have shown that these substances can have adverse effects on reproduction and development. Effects on humans have not yet been clearly demonstrated.

Two studies

The Division of Environmental Medicine at the NIPH has recently completed two studies to examine 

  • the presence of PFCs in Norwegian food 
  • whether dietary intake affects serum PFC concentrations.

Up to twelve different PFCs were found in samples of foods and beverages that were examined, and the quantities were similar or lower to those found in studies in other countries. The highest concentrations were found in fish and fish liver.

In the second study, serum PFC concentrations were measured in 175 women and men. It was also estimated how much of these substances the participants had ingested through food (dietary intake).

The study showed a high correlation between the serum PFC concentrations in the participants and dietary intake. Furthermore, it appeared that fish and shellfish consumption is a major determinant of serum PFC concentrations.

The estimated dietary intake of PFCs is 100-2500 times lower than the tolerable daily intake established by EFSA (European Food Safety Authority). Read more here.

A new study is now underway to examine the impact of the indoor environment on the serum PFC concentrations.


  • Haug, LS., Salihovic, S., Jogsten, IE., Thomsen, C., van Bavel, B., Lindstrom, G., Becher, G. Levels in food and beverages and daily intake of perfluorinated compounds in Norway. Chemosphere (2010) 80; 1137-1143. Chemosphere (2010) 80: 1137-1143.
  • Haug, LS., Thomsen, C., Brantsæter, AL, Kvalem, HE, Haugen, M., Becher, G., Alexander, J., Meltzer, HM., Knutsen, HK. Diet and particularly seafood are major sources of perfluorinated compounds in humans. Environment International (2010) 36: 772-778.

Share on:

MORE FROM Environmental Health

Health news