Dioxins are extremely low in the Irish food chain, concludes review of current data by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI).
Dioxins are primarily formed as a result of incomplete combustion of waste material. As a consequence, the main source of dioxins in Ireland is from uncontrolled burning of domestic waste, which can enter the food chain through the air, soil or vegetation.
"It is estimated that 90 per cent of human exposure results from the consumption of dioxin-contaminated food, mainly foodstuffs of animal origin such as meat, fish, milk and dairy produce.
But we are satisfied with our data, showing that Irish consumers are currently exposed to very low levels of dioxins in food," said Alan Reilly, deputy chief executive of the FSAI.
Reilly added that Ireland is the only country in the EU without municipal waste incineration facilities. A number of facilities designed to burn waste at temperatures in excess of 850oC at which temperature dioxins are destroyed, are included in the national waste management strategic plan.
"We also looked at whether the introduction of incineration facilities would result in a higher level of dioxins being produced in Irish foods.
The FSAI's conclusion is that given modern incinerators destroy dioxins by burning waste at over 850oC, any introduction of such systems to Ireland, if properly managed should not contribute to increasing dioxin levels in the Irish food supply. In addition, again with proper management being imperative, incinerations should not affect food quality or safety," he continued, warning that any such development would require strict observation programmes and ongoing environmental monitoring.