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Food Science/dioxins released in frozen vegetables


Are dioxins released from plastic bags or plastic bottles that were frozen? Do frozen vegetables stored in plastic bags get contaminated with dioxins?
Also, can food still sprout (ex. garlic, potatoes, onions) after it has been irradiated to prolong shelf life?

Dear Mitch,
No, dioxins aren't released from plastic bags.

Sources of dioxin contamination

Dioxins are mainly by products of industrial processes but can also result from natural processes, such as volcanic eruptions and forest fires. Dioxins are unwanted by products of a wide range of manufacturing processes including smelting, chlorine bleaching of paper pulp and the manufacturing of some herbicides and pesticides. In terms of dioxin release into the environment, uncontrolled waste incinerators (solid waste and hospital waste) are often the worst culprits, due to incomplete burning. Technology is available that allows for controlled waste incineration with low emissions.

Although formation of dioxins is local, environmental distribution is global. Dioxins are found throughout the world in the environment. The highest levels of these compounds are found in some soils, sediments and food, especially dairy products, meat, fish and shellfish. Very low levels are found in plants, water and air.

Extensive stores of PCB-based waste industrial oils, many with high levels of PCDFs, exist throughout the world. Long-term storage and improper disposal of this material may result in dioxin release into the environment and the contamination of human and animal food supplies. PCB-based waste is not easily disposed of without contamination of the environment and human populations. Such material needs to be treated as hazardous waste and is best destroyed by high temperature incineration.

Food irradiation is the process of treating food with a specific dosage of ionizing radiation.This treatment slows or halts spoilage by retarding enzymic action or destroying microorganisms and it can also inactivate foodborne pathogenic organisms (reducing the risk of food borne illness). Further applications include sprout inhibition, delay of ripening, increase of juice yield, and improvement of re-hydration. Irradiation is also used to prevent the spread of invasive insect species that could be associated with fresh produce (e.g. fruit fly pests).

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Handbook of Food Analysis, M. Dekker, New York, 1996.
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