Methods for detection of dioxins in eggs

RESPONDING to the latest food scare in Europe, in which chicken eggs have been found to contain up to four times the permitted level of dioxins, Thermo Fisher has drawn attention to the test methods it has developed to detect and confirm the presence of these contaminants.

An organic farm in Lower Saxony was found on 18 June 2012 to have produced eggs containing up to 19.5 picograms of dioxin per gram, according to poultry trade website Poultry Site. The contamination, the source of which remains unknown, was found through routine in-house screening and all shipments were immediately stopped.

As many as 268,000 eggs are thought to have been distributed before the problem was identified, and these have since been recovered from many sites across Germany. Affected eggs are stamped with the producer code DE-0-0356091 and have an expiry date of 14 June 2012 or later.

Thermo’s detection methods have been developed at its Pops Centre of Excellence in Bremen, Germany – Pops being persistent organic pollutants. The methods include:

  • High Efficiency, Quantitative Dioxins Screening at the Level of Interest in Feed and Food using Advanced GC-MS/MS
  • Confirmation of Low Level Dioxins and Furans in Dirty Matrix Samples using High Resolution GC/MS
  • Dual Data Acquisition for High Throughput Analysis of Polychlorinated Dioxins/Furans (PCDD/Fs)

All of these and others are available as application notes, freely downloadable in PDF from

Dioxins are associated with reproductive and developmental disorders, damage to the human immune system, hormonal problems and increased incidence of cancer, according to the World Health Organisation and numerous other studies.

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