BRUSSELS (B)--European meal and fish oil are the feed materials most heavily contaminated with the dangerous chemicals dioxins and PCBs, scientists advising the European Commission have concluded in a report published Nov. 24. Their advice will be the main scientific input into the Commission's preparation of a strategy to reduce dioxin contamination of food, which will see legislative proposals next year, a Commission spokesman said.

A separate opinion from a second committee of scientific advisers recommends maximum tolerable intakes of such chemicals. They too concluded that fish exhibited the highest levels of dioxin contamination. The two studies looked at dioxins, which are carcinogenic, and PCBs, which are often regarded as hormone-mimicking.

The entry of the chemicals, often blamed on industrial pollution, into the food-chain is significant because they accumulate as residues in meat, fish and other food.

The Scientific Committee on Food concluded that the most efficient way to reduce the presence of these compounds in the food chain was to limit their release "to the lowest levels that are technically achievable".

The Scientific Committee on Animal Nutrition pointed out that fish meal and fish oil from Europe was eight times more heavily contaminated than those from South Pacific stock. The Committee suggested that: "emphasis should be put on reducing the impact of the most contaminated feed materials e.g. fish meal and fish oil from Europe, on overall diet contamination. This could be achieved by substituting the most contaminated for less contaminated sources."

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