Impact of Home Preparation and Cooking Methods on Levels of Dioxin and Dioxin-Like Compounds in Foods
Human exposure to dioxins and dioxin-like compounds (DLCs) is primarily from ingestion of fish, meat, and dairy products. Based on studies where populations were exposed to much higher levels of DLCs than the general population would encounter, some DLCs have been classified as carcinogens/ probable carcinogens. However, uncertainty remains about the possible adverse health effects from low-level chronic exposure to DLCs. Although the average Canadian dietary intake of dioxin is within the tolerable level set by the World Health Organization (WHO) and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, reducing the DLCs level in foods can help reduce risk. Household food preparation and cooking methods (skinning, trimming and/or cooking, in addition to the disposal of pan drippings and poaching/boiling liquids) are relatively economical and practical approaches to reduce exposure to DLCs from fish, by an average of 35% at the consumer level. Selecting low fat foods (lean cuts of meat, low fat dairy products) and releasing DLCs by cooking or removing the fat portion of the foods during food preparation and cooking can significantly reduce contaminant levels. Research on the efficacy of household food preparation to reduce DLC levels in meat and vegetables is limited. Both risks and benefits need to be evaluated in order to effectively communicate risks from food contaminants.