Persistent Organic Pollutant Levels in Commercial Baby Foods and Estimation of Infants Dietary Exposure
Persistent organic pollutants (POPs), including organochlorine pesticides (OCPs), polychlorinated dibenzodioxins and dibenzofurans (PCDD/Fs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), bioaccumulate in animal fat, which may lead to a high daily intake of these contaminants. In adults the common routes of exposure to POPs involve consumption of diary and meat products, whereas during infancy, breast and formula milk are the major routes of exposure. Numerous studies have focused on the high levels of PCDD/Fs and PCBs in breast milk, but only a few have examined the levels of persistent pollutants in commercial baby foods. According, the aim of the CASCADE research project funded by the EU was to evaluate the present exposure to POPs of non-breast-fed European infants. For this purpose, the baby foods consumed in largest amounts in 22 EU countries, including milk, soy and hypoallergenic infant formulae, as well as solid foods and beverages, were analyzed. In general, our findings indicate that the daily exposure of 0–9-month-old infants through the products investigated here does not exceed the maximum recommended total daily intake (TDI) of 4 pg WHO-TEQ kg−1 bw d−1. However, the estimated daily exposure of one group, namely those 0–4 months of age consuming “starting” hypoallergenic formula, may exceed 2 pg WHO-TEQ kg−1 bw d−1. Moreover, analysis of OCPs also indicates that the daily exposure of infants who are not breast-fed is not harmful. Considering of the importance of early human development and the vulnerability of infants and children, it is essential to determine their daily exposure to POPs in order to decide which efforts at risk reduction should receive the highest priority.