Formula milk safe from cancer compounds, says FSA

By Chris Mercer

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Formula milk, Infant, European union, Food standards agency

Levels of the cancer-causing PAH compounds in infant formula milk
on sale in Britain are below the limits set by the European Union
and pose no health risk, says the UK's food safety watchdog.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) said it tested 111 baby foods and 97 formula milk products last year for the presence of carcinogenic compounds known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs.

The FSA said no products had levels of benzo(a)pyrene (BaP), which indicates the presence of PAHs, that exceeded the one mircrogram per kg limit set down by the European Union on 1 April last year.

BaP was detected in 39 of the 97 formula milk products and 28 of the 111 baby foods sampled by the FSA, with three baby food samples showing "relatively higher" levels.

The results, however, revealed no health risk for babies or infants, the FSA said, and should serve to reassure both consumers and formula milk producers.

A related group of around 250 chemical compounds come under the title of PAHs. They are released into the atmosphere by the burning of fossil fuels, vehicle exhaust emissions and tobacco smoke. Some are known to be harmful to health at high levels.

However, lab research found the dose of PAHs needed to cause cancer is several times that normally found in food, according to the European Commission's Scientific Committee on Food.

A study by Finland's food safety body in 2003 found PAH levels in ten margarine samples between 0.3 and 1.6 micrograms per kg. It concluded that all the products were safe.

Related topics: Regulation & Safety, Fresh Milk

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