All vegetable oils and cheeses tested for dioxins and dioxin-like compounds found safe for human consumption

October 19, 2012, Ottawa: As part of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's (CFIA) routine testing of various food products, a study released today found that all vegetable oils and cheeses tested for dioxins and dioxin-like compounds were safe.

Dioxins and dioxin-like compounds, which include furans and PCBs, are a group of chemicals with similar biological and chemical properties. Dioxins and furans can be formed as by-products of industrial processes or occur naturally in the environment. PCBs are man-made and often contain furans. Dioxins and dioxin-like compounds have been associated with a wide range of human illnesses, including certain types of cancers.

When elevated levels of contaminants are detected, Health Canada may complete an assessment to determine if they pose a health risk, based on the contaminant level, expected frequency of exposure and contribution to overall diet. These factors help determine whether further action is needed, up to and including product seizure and/or recall. If a human health concern is identified, a public recall is issued.

In 2010-2011, the CFIA tested 167 samples of domestic and imported vegetable oils, and 284 samples of cheese. All levels of dioxins or dioxin-like compounds detected were well below international regulatory limits. They were also comparable to levels observed in raw milk samples tested annually in Canada under the National Chemical Residue Monitoring Program (NCRMP). Due to the low concentrations found in these samples, no follow-up activities or recalls were required.

Further information on this survey report is available on the CFIA website.

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