PFAS ‘forever chemicals’ found in organic eggs
A new study by the Technical University of Denmark National Food Institute and the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration has found eggs in Denmark labelled as ‘organic’ are contaminated with worryingly high levels of the persistent environmental pollutant, PFAS.
The study found that levels of PFAS in the yolks of organic eggs were much higher than levels detected in free-range, barn and battery hens. The study’s authors suggest PFAS found in the eggs may have transferred through fishmeal, which is routinely used as feed for hens.
PFAS are a family of over 10,000 synthetic chemicals that can be found in a range of consumer goods, from food packaging to clothing. Manufacturers use PFAS in their products due to their water and grease-proof properties. However, they can persist in our environment for decades and end up entering the food chain. Certain PFAS have been linked to a range of health problems, including foetal developmental issues and reduced vaccine response in children.
The study concluded that children aged 4 – 9 who eat more than 2.5 organic eggs per week may be ingesting too much of the unwanted substance. Children who eat 5 – 6 eggs per week, may be exposed to twice the tolerable intake set by the European Food Safety Authority. This is on top of exposure to PFAS from other sources.
This study illustrates how these harmful, persistent chemicals can work their way up the food chain, from fish to hens to humans. At each stage they can accumulate in organic tissue at increasingly higher concentrations.
Just this week the European Chemicals Agency has published the details of a proposed restriction of about 10,000 PFAS. The proposal was prepared by the authorities in Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden with the aim to reduce PFAS emissions into the environment and make products and processes safer for people.