Dioxins consist of 210 components, including Polychlorinated Dibenzodioxins (PCDDs) and Polychlorinated Dibenzofurans (PCDFs), of which 17 are considered toxic. Dioxins are not intentionally manufactured and are an unwanted byproduct of chemical and combustion processes.

Risks Posed To Food Chain Alongside with the environmental contamination, a lot of attention has arisen in regards to the presence of these components in the food chain through a number of dioxin contamination incidents. Dioxins are persistent chemicals, they break down very slowly and are fat soluble. These two properties cause dioxins to accumulate in the food chain.

Over 90% of a human’s intake of dioxins is through their normal diet. Dairy products, meat, poultry, eggs, fish and animal fats tend to have the highest concentrations of dioxin levels. Europe has established strict regulations with respect to dioxins in feed and food. The maximum allowable levels are very low and the matrices in which they industry news – FOOD are determined can be quite complex compared to environmental matrices.

Recent dioxin contaminations include: The current dioxin crisis in Germany. Fatty acids, intended for technical purposes and contaminated with dioxins, were mixed with fats intended for animal feeding. As a result, dioxins were introduced into various animal feed production lots.

2008: Dioxins were discovered in pork meat in Ireland. The contamination source was animal feed consisting of bread crumbs from bakery waste. These were contaminated by direct contact during drying with combustion gases originating from the use of non-food grade oil.

2007: In Switzerland guar gum originating from India was found to be contaminated with dioxins and pentachlorophenol.

1999: The dioxin crisis in Belgium originated from mixing Polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) oil with used frying oil for final use in animal feed. Detecting Dioxins Dioxin analysis is quite complex due to the low levels of regulatory interest and the complexity of the matrices they have to be determined in. This requires a lot of expertise in dealing with trace analysis as well as sophisticated high technology equipment (High Resolution Mass Spectrometry) for instrumental analysis. The expertise also covers the whole sample treatment i.e. transferring all the dioxins resulting from eggs to a one droplet solution or changing a piece of meat into a one droplet solution containing all the native dioxin contamination. Besides the complexity of the analytical service, this type of work has to be carried out on a routine basis providing turnaround times which fit into the regulatory action time frame.

Dioxin Testing

SGS is well established in the field of dioxin testing. Since the dioxin crisis of 1999 in Belgium, SGS was chosen by the Belgian Food Agency for very fast and accurate dioxin analyses allowing authorities to deal with the crisis in the most effective way possible.

With geographical presence, SGS is very well placed to provide dioxin testing anywhere in the world, aiming to deliver the best service on the market.

SGS expertise with respect to the analysis of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) is recognized by International organizations like UNEP Chemicals to which SGS has made several contributions in facilitating workshops, focused on installing analytical capabilities in developing regions.

Besides dioxins, testing of other dioxin-like components such as PCBs, Polybrominated Flame Retardants, Polychloronaphtalenes, Polychlorinated diphenylethers, Brominated dioxins and furans etc. underline the expertise present in the SGS Group.

Find out more about SGS Food Safety Services.


Marc Van Ryckeghem
Business Unit Manager I.A.C.

SGS Belgium N.V.
t: +32 3 545 85 90
m: +41 79 251 8218
Website: www.sgs.com/foodsafety

About SGS

The SGS Group is the global leader and innovator in inspection, verification, testing and certification services. Founded in 1878, SGS is recognized as the global benchmark in quality and integrity. With 64,000 employees, SGS operates a network of over 1,250 offices and laboratories around the world.