Contaminants are substances that have not been intentionally added to feed. These substances may be present in feed as a result of the various stages of its production, packaging, transport or holding. They also might result from environmental contamination. Since contamination generally has a negative impact on the quality of feed and may imply a risk to human and animal health, the EU has taken measures to minimise contaminants in feedstuffs. Maximum limits have been set for many contaminants to protect the consumer against overexposure.

For oils and fats and products thereof important contaminants are: metals (lead, cadmium, mercury, arsenic, fluorine), dioxins, dioxin-like PCBs, non dioxin-like PCBs, Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH) (benzo(a)pyrene) and sum of 4 PAHs), aflatoxin.

Contaminants legislation for feed can be found in Directive 2002/32/EC on undesirable substances in animal feed (consolidated version). 

A summary of maximum limits for undesirable substances in feed relevant for oils and fats and products thereof is: 

ContaminantProductEuropean maximum level
in mg/kg (ppm)

Relative to a feedingstuff 
with a moisture content of 12%
Arsenic Fats and oils 2 mg/kg
Palm kernel expeller 4 mg/kg
Lead Feed materials 10 mg/kg
Fluorine Feed materials 150 mg/kg
Mercury Feed materials 0.1 mg/kg
Cadmium Feed materials 1 mg/kg
Aflatoxine B1 Feed materials 0.02 mg/kg
(sum of dioxins and furans)
Vegetable oils and byproducts 0.75 ng/kg 
Animal fats 1.5 ng/kg 
Fish oil 5 ng/kg 
Sum of dioxins, 
furans and dioxin-like PCBs
Vegetable oils and byproducts 1.5 ng/kg 
Animal fats 2 ng/kg 
Fish oil 20 ng/kg 
Non-dioxin like PCBs 
(sum of PCB28, PCB52, 
PCB101, PCB138, PCB153, PCB180)
Feed materials of plant origin 10 µg/kg
Animal fats 10 µg/kg
Fish oil 175 µg/kg
Aldrin + Dieldrin Fats and Oils 0.1 mg/kg
Campheclor Fats and Oils 0.05 mg/kg
Fish oil 0.2 mg/kg
Chlordane Fats and Oils 0.05 mg/kg
DDT Fats and Oils 0.5 mg/kg
Endosulfan Crude vegetable oil 1 mg/kg
Cottonseed and products derived from the processing thereof, except crude cotton seed oil 0.3 mg/kg 
Soybean and products derived from the processing thereof, except crude soybean oil 0.5 mg/kg 
All other oilseeds and products derived from the processing therof, except crude oil 0.1 mg/kg
Endrin Fats and Oils 0.05 mg/kg
Heptachlor Fats and Oils 0.2 mg/kg
Hexachlorbenzene (HCB) Fats and Oils 0.2 mg/kg
Hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH)
   - Alpha isomers
   - Beta isomers
   - Gamma isomers

Fats and Oils
Fats and Oils
Fats and Oils

0.2 mg/kg
0.1 mg/kg
2 mg/kg

Dioxin action levels

Action levels are set to reduce the dioxin intake of the European Community population. They are meant as a tool for competent authorities and operators to highlight those cases where it is appropriate to identify a source of contamination and to take measures to reduce or eliminate it. 
For products intended for animal consumption the following action limits presently apply:


Action level 

(sum of polychlorinated dibenzo-para-dioxins (PCDDs), polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs) expressed in WHO toxic equivalents)

Action level 
dioxin-like PCBs

(sum of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) expressed in WHO toxic equivalents)

Vegetable oils and their by-products 0.5 ng/kg 0.5 ng /kg
Animal fat 0.75 ng /kg 0.75 ng/kg
Fish oil 4.0 ng/kg 11.0 ng /kg











Last modified: October 19, 2020 14:16