PFAS control in food and feed

27/07/2023 - 15:00 GMT+2
28/07/2023 - 16:30 GMT+2

Maurizio Paleologo

Ales Bartl, PhD
Gianfranco Brambilla
Roberta Ceci
Marco Meschiari
Craig Simpson
Frans Verstraete

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Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are extremely stable chemical substances. This characteristic made them very useful for some industrial applications, but it makes them one of the most Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). They accumulate in agricultural soil and water and then in living organisms, both plants and animals. Exposure to PFAS leads to several health problems in animals and humans. Even if the use of the most toxic PFAS was already stopped, the high level of environmental pollution and the stability of such molecules create the conditions for their presence in the food chain. The concentration of PFAS in food is relatively low (fractions of ppb, mostly) but they are highly toxic, so it is already evident that part of the population in industrialized countries is overexposed and there is a risk to their health. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) established in 2020 a group Tolerable Weekly Intake of 4.4 ng/kg body weight. The risk assessment concluded that “part of the European population” is currently exposed above this level. The TWI is very low exactly because we, day by day, accumulate those contaminants in our bodies.      

The EU Commission, for the moment, listed “indicative levels” of PFAS for several foods, as well as the adequate LODs (EU Recommendation 2022/1431). LODs in fruits, as an example, should be in the range of 1-4 ng/kg (ppt). In milk the LODs should be  between 10 and 40 ppt (10 ppt for PFOS and PFOA). In this document, it is clearly stated that the feed and water of farmed animals must be analyzed when the animal products are above the indicative levels (for example,10-60 ppt in milk). Just a few months after that Recommendation, the EU Commission published a few Maximum Limits for PFAS in food. Currently, there are thresholds for eggs, fish, seafood and meat. The LMs are between 0.2 and 50 ppb.    

Testing of PFAS in food and feed is not easy. The Limit of Detections and Quantifications required are so low that even background presence in laboratory solvents or contamination by inappropriate sample containers can create wrong results.      

In this AffidiaTalks we will explain why, when, how, and where the PFAS can get to feed and food. We will give you a picture of human exposure, that is due to several sources. We will ask a number of experts to share their knowledge on different approaches to PFAS detection and the degree of reliability of analytical services.  



27 July 2023, 15:00-16:30        

Introduction Maurizio Paleologo (Affidia Journal)        


- Overview of the international efforts for PFAS substitution, to reduce their release in the environment and their transfer to the food chain. Gianfranco Brambilla, Italian National Institute of Health (Italy)      
International bodies such as WHO, OECD, UNEP, EU Commission are proposing and advocacy action to substitute the production and utilisation of Poly-and PerFluoro Substances, in those processes and products where safe and sustainable alternatives are or will be available. This, because such class of substances show high persistence and mobility features, that progressively could lead to harmful exposure for biota and humans, via water, soil, air, and the related food chains. In particular, safe and sustainable food production chain may suffer of PFAS presence in products recovered from former wastes within a circular economy approach. This could be the case of bio-wastes from processes/products affected by PFAS, in absence of feed&food tailored end-of-waste criteria. The presentation will give an overview of the open debate on PFAS assessment in food production systems.

- PFAS REACH restriction proposal: status impact. Dr. Ales Bartl, Partner, Keller and Heckman LLP  
The PFAS REACH restriction proposal that was published in March 2023 applies to any product containing PFAS, including food and food contact materials. The allowed limits are very low, in ppb or ppm levels (depending on the method). Thus, the restriction also covers PFAS contamination from raw materials and/or from the manufacturing process.  The presentation will outline the status of the restriction proposal and its likely outcome, as relevant to food and food contact applications. The presentation will also discuss advocacy possibilities during the public consultations, enforcement and how to prepare.  

- EU policy on contaminants in food. Frans Verstraete, Directorate General for Health and Food Safety, EU Commission

- Managing PFAS risks in feed and drinking water. Craig Simpson, Partner, Keller and Heckman LLP        
In addition to EU legislation addressing PFAS risks in food, this section of the presentation will consider the current status of initiatives to manage PFAS risks in relation to animal feed and drinking water.




28 July 2023, 15:00-16:30          


- How to assess the risk and implement a control plan. Maurizio Paleologo, Affidia Journal    
PFAS, a huge group of chemicals with several industrial applications, can be present in water, raw materials, packaging materials, and even equipment and tools used for food production. Any Food Business Operator must carefully evaluate the contamination sources, monitor the contamination level, and work on the mitigation of the PFAS presence in order to guarantee the safety of the products. The training of personnel is certainly something that must be part of the plan. After this part about risk assessment and management, we will present the available analytical methods, both for screening and for identification and quantification of PFAS in the food chain. The economical side of the testing will be considered, as well as the reliability of analytical services currently available.  

- Perfluoroalkyl compounds in food matrices: national control plans and analytical issues. Roberta Ceci, Italian Reference Laboratory for Halogenated POPs in food and feed, IZSAM "G. Caporale" Teramo    
In 2022, EU Commission published Regulations on laying down rules and uniform practical arrangements for the performance of official controls as regards contaminants in food as well as maximum limits of certain PFASs in foodstuffs. Since EU Regulation requests to detect these chemicals at very low levels, efforts should be focused to develop high sensitive and selective methods in complex matrices. For instance, some critical key issues linked with PFAS analysis are blank contamination and quantification of the sum of linear and branched isomers.    

- PFAS testing: the challenge of result consistency. Marco Meschiari, Neotron part of the Cotecn Group      
PFAS are emerging contaminants on the spotlight of regulatory, food companies and consumers, as consequence PFAS testing activities is growing more and more. PFAS testing in food and feed samples can be considered a challenge due to many factors: the very low limit of quantification required, the presence of several compounds with different proprieties and several source of environmental contamination. What are the best approaches to this kind of test? What are the main problems during routine analysis? What are the quality controls more effective to guarantee reliable results? In the speech will be presented the experience of an European third party lab engaged in PFAS testing since may years ago.      




Who should attend

This webinar will provide valuable information to:  

• food and feed safety professionals;  

• food and feed technologists;  

• safety and quality managers;  

• food and feed safety auditors;  

• food and feed regulatory experts;  

• laboratory directors, managers, and supervisors;  

• plant operations;  

• production specialists;  

• food and feed scientists.  

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