Perchlorate in fruit and vegetables opinion re-published

EFSA has re-published its scientific opinion on the risks to public health from perchlorate in food, particularly in fruit and vegetables. Adopted in September 2014, the opinion has been revised because of a technical error. EFSA’s experts have re-assessed dietary exposure to perchlorate using corrected data on perchlorate levels in food and taking into account more recently available occurrence data.

Perchlorate is a contaminant present in the environment naturally and as a result of human activity. The use of natural fertilisers and perchlorate contaminated irrigation water may lead to substantial concentrations in leafy vegetables.

EFSA’s experts established a tolerable daily intake (TDI) of 0.3 micrograms per kilogram of body weight per day, based on the inhibition of thyroid iodine uptake in healthy adults. The TDI is an estimate of the amount of a substance that people can consume on a daily basis during their whole life without any appreciable risk to health.

EFSA estimated chronic and ‘short-term’ exposure to perchlorate. A single exposure to perchlorate at levels found in food and water is unlikely to cause adverse effects on human health, including the more vulnerable groups of the population. Overall, chronic dietary exposure to perchlorate is of potential concern, in particular for high consumers in the younger age groups of the population with mild to moderate iodine deficiency. Exposure to perchlorate may be of concern for infants breast-fed by iodine-deficient mothers. The re-assessment of dietary exposure did not affect these overall conclusions.

Notes to editors

Building upon EFSA’s scientific advice, in March 2015 European Commission updated the levels of perchlorate in food to be used as a reference for intra-Union trade.

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