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Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAC)

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAC) are organic contaminants mainly produced during incomplete combustion processes and introduced into the environment in this way.

Besides environmental contamination, a number of processing methods like barbecuing or smoking may be the causes for the presence of PAC in food and fodder.

PAC are highly fat-soluble and therefore proliferate in food and fodder with oil and fat contents in particular, for instance in vegetable oils, meat and fish.

Some PAC like benzo(a)pyrene are classified carcinogenic. There are legally required limit values, i.e. QA guidelines, for their presence in all relevant foodstuffs and fodder; these values must be monitored regularly.

SYNLAB Service

  • Analysis in a trace range using HPLC-UV/FLD; GC-MS on request
  • Analysis possible in many matrices, for instance:
    • food
    • fodder
    • farm manure and fermentation substrates
    • compost, soil and sewage sludge
    • water

We regularly participate in inter-laboratory studies to maintain our high quality standards.

Current maximum contents and guidelines

Food

Maximum contents in food, Regulation (EU) 1881/2006 Benzo(a)pyrene [µg/kg OS] PAC 4 [µg/kg OS]
Oils and fats (apart from cocoa butter and coconut oil) 2,0 10,0
Cocoa beans and derivatives 5,0 30,0
Coconut oil 2,0 20,0
Smoked meat and meat products 2,0 12,0
Smoked meat of fish, fishery products, crustaceans, crabs and crab-like crustaceans 2,0 12,0
Smoked sprat (canned also), mussels (fresh, chilled, frozen) 5,0 30,0
Smoked mussels 6,0 35,0
(Cereal) supplementary food for infants and young children 1,0 1,0
Infant formula and follow-on formula; infant milk and follow-on milk 1,0 1,0
Dietary foods for particular medical purposes, intended for consumption by infants 1,0 1,0
Cocoa fibre and derivatives 3,0 15,0
Banana chips 2,0 20,0
Dietary supplements 10,0 50,0
Dried herbs 10,0 50,0
Dried spices, apart from cardamom and capsicum spp. 10,0 50,0


Fodder

Action thresholds and guidelines in the QA guideline for fodder monitoring Benzo(a)pyrene [µg/kg 88% TS] Action thresholds PAC 4 [µg/kg fat] Guidelines PAC 4 [µg/kg fat]
Oils, fats and their products - 160,0 200,0
Palm kernel oil, coconut oil and their products - 320,0 400,0
Products containing < 10% fat 25,0 - -

One action threshold and one QA guideline – relative to the fat content – apply to the PAC 4 values for oils, fats and their products in fodder. A separate guideline applies to palm kernel and coconut oil.

The original QA guideline for benzo(a)pyrene continues to apply for fodder with a fat content less than 10%.

Regulations

The maximum contents for benzo(a)pyrene in food that were previous defined in Regulation (EC) NO 1881/2006 were amended by Regulation (EU) 835/2011 to include a value for so-called ‘PAC 4’. PAC 4 defines the aggregate quantity of benzo(a)anthracene, chrysene, benzo(b)fluoroanthene and benzo(a)pyrene.

The maximum contents in some products like smoked meat and fish were reduced once more in September 2014. Regulation (EU) No 2015/1933 (valid from 1 April 2016) recently defined new maximum contents for cocoa fibres, banana chips, dietary supplements, dried herbs and dried spices.

The current QA guideline on fodder monitoring is also based on PAC 4.

 

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