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Carry out a Mass Balance for Bromine Compounds in Food and Feed Samples - Quantifying the Levels of Common Brominated Flame Retardants (BFRs) and Identifying the Presence of any New BFRs

FERA - Food and Environment Research Agency
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Following discussion between the FSA project officer and the contractor, a plan will be prepared for the collection of about 300 food and 100 feed/feed ingredient samples. Foods/feed types that are suspected to contain a higher concentration of the known BFRs will be targeted (eg fish, shellfish, composite feed). These samples will be collected by the subcontractors and delivered to Fera. The samples will be analysed by ICP-MS for organic bromine content. Approximately half of the samples with the highest bromine content will then be analysed for PBDEs and Hexabromocyclododecanes (HBCDDs). This will be carried out using the same methodology as in previous investigations carried out by Fera for FSA (ie using internal standardization with carbon 13 (13C) labelled material, and where HBCDD stereoisomers will be measured by LC-MS/MS and GC-high resolution, and MS will be used for the PBDEs). Interim tables of results from these investigations will be provided as agreed with the FSA.

The proportion of the summed HBCD and PBDE bromine content of the samples will be compared to the total organic bromine content of the samples. A selection of the samples with the highest discrepancies will be selected for further qualitative investigation. For this, purified extracts enriched by concentration will be subjected to sensitive and high resolution, time-of-flight (TOF) mass spectrometric techniques to investigate the identity of significant unknown compounds. New de-convolution software will be used to target typical isotope patterns of brominated compounds in conjunction with programmed identification procedures, using mass characteristics of known emerging/novel BFRs such as the new compounds identified by EFSA Scientific Opinion on Emerging and Novel Brominated Flame Retardants (BFRs) in Food. This would provide a more targeted approach to identifying unknown signals. The process would be controlled by the use of available BFR standards for some of the new BFRs, eg Bis(246-tribromophenoxy)ethane (BTBPE) and Decabromodiphenylethane (DBDPE).

More information

Background: BFRs are a group of chemical compounds added to furniture, textiles, electrical products and building materials to delay the onset and spread of fire. Due to their very widespread use, BFRs are everywhere in the environment and have entered the food chain. Older BFRs such as brominated biphenyls (PBBs) were banned in the 1970s due to health concerns and some of their more recent replacements, eg polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), have been subject to restrictions due to environmental and health concerns. Replacement compounds are continually being introduced and, according to the most recent European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) opinion: Scientific Opinion on Emerging and Novel Brominated Flame Retardants (BFRs) in Food, there is a lack of safety and environmental information about these. Through this new investigation, the FSA hopes to gain a better understanding of what newer BFRs are entering the food chain.

Funding Source
Food Standards Agency
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Chemical Contaminants
Natural Toxins
Bacterial Pathogens