The European Commission has published a recommendation, 2014/118/EU, which asks Member States to monitor foods for residues of brominated flame retardants (BFRs).
Many brominated flame retardants are persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic to both humans and the environment. They are suspected of causing neurobehavioral effects and endocrine disruption and they have been found in biota in the environment.
This is cause for concern as these highly toxic compounds can easily find their way into the food chain. The classes of compounds covered by this Recommendation are:
polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs)
- tetrabromobisphenol A and its derivatives
- brominated phenols and their derivatives
- emerging and novel brominated flame retardants
This will be a significant challenge for analytical laboratories, as some of the limits set are very low – in the ng/g range in some cases. Valid analytical methods with a low limit of detection must be used, and in some cases these will need to be developed.
A project under the Government Chemist programme looking into measuring some of these compounds at ultra low levels in waters will be carried out later in 2014; we must understand that the challenges in this project will be magnified in carrying out such measurements in complex food matrices.
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