PAHs in food

Abstract This chapter was written by Sabrina Moret*, Giorgia Purcaro and Lanfranco S. Conte.

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are environmental contaminants mainly derived from incomplete combustion of organic matter. A number of 4-6 ring PAHs have been proved to possess both carcinogenic and genotoxic properties. Their presence in foods is mainly due to environmental contamination (through atmospheric fall-out), food processing (grilling, smoking, etc.) and contamination with mineral oils. High contamination levels can be found in some vegetable oils (particularly in pomace olive oil and grapeseed oil) and in fish and meat products smoked or grilled with traditional systems involving direct contact with combustion fumes. In the early 2005, the European Commission introduced maximum legal limits for benzo[a]pyrene (chosen as a marker of contamination) in different foodstuffs.


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