The perfluoroalkylated substances or PFAS They are a group of chemical substances produced by humans that can accumulate and remain in the body for a long time causing negative health effects.
In this way, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has updated the recommendations on maximum permitted intake levels of PFAS with the aim that they are not harmful to health.
These chemicals are used in the manufacture of a wide variety of products, such as textiles, household goods, electronics or in food processing. However, people can be exposed to PFAS after eating certain foodsThe most common being fish, fruits, eggs, egg derivatives and even after drinking drinking water.
Pathways of food contamination
But, how is food contaminated with these substances? EFSA highlights several focuses:
- Food can be contaminated through previously contaminated soil and water used for cultivation.
- Through the concentration of these substances in animals after ingesting feed and water.
- In the packaging of products that are contaminated.
- Through processing equipment containing PFAS.
What are the most damaging effects on health?
The studies and analyzes carried out by EFSA show two serious effects that are produced by the accumulation of this type of chemical in the body. As stated by the Organization of Consumers and Users (OCU), a decreased immune system response to vaccination, this being the most critical effect for human health. In the 2018 evaluation, EFSA considered that the most detrimental effect was an increase in blood cholesterol.
For this reason, the limit set by the health authority for a tolerable weekly intake is 4.4 nanograms per kilogram of body weight. The child population is one of the groups most exposed to the ingestion of PFAS, and “exposure during pregnancy and lactation is the main factor that contributes to the levels of PFAS in babies”, they highlight.