Organic eggs might not be all that they seem

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  • Published: Apr 22, 2015
  • Author: Steve Down
  • Channels: Proteomics & Genomics / Gas Chromatography / Ion Chromatography / HPLC / Sample Preparation / Detectors / Electrophoresis / Laboratory Informatics / X-ray Spectrometry / Proteomics / Base Peak / MRI Spectroscopy / Atomic / UV/Vis Spectroscopy / Chemometrics & Informatics / Infrared Spectroscopy / Raman / NMR Knowledge Base

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Free-range eggs produced on organic farms might not be free of contaminants. This follows the revelation that dioxins from building materials in a stable found their way into the eggs on a German farm, prompting fears that this is being repeated around the world.

During routine monitoring of eggs laid by free-range hens living on an organic farm, state scientist Jörg Winkler discovered a number of polychlorinated biphenyl compounds, some of which are close companions to the banned dioxins. Writing in Environment International, he described how non-dioxin-like and dioxin-like PCBs were observed by GC/MS, as well as some dioxins themselves.

Following an extensive examination of neighbouring materials, such as soil, feed, dust and waste from the gutter of a stable, the chlorinated compounds were matched to those present in coatings on asbestos-cement cover plates which lined the walls and roof of a stable to which the hens had access.

As Winkler explained, these types of building materials have been commonly used in many countries throughout the world, so they could be a source of PCBs that has not yet been recognised until now. When used in farm buildings, they represent a potential source of contamination for foods that are stored inside as well as animals that use them for shelter. Given the toxic properties of many of the compounds in the PCB group, it is clearly a source that should be investigated further.

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