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Food Addit Contam Part A Chem Anal Control Expo Risk Assess. 2013;30(12):2035-42. doi: 10.1080/19440049.2013.840930. Epub 2013 Oct 21.

Estimate of dietary exposure to sulphites in child and adult populations in the Basque Country.

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  • 1a Public Health Division of Gipuzkoa , Health Department of Basque Region , Donostia-San Sebastián , Guipúzcoa 20013 , Spain.


Sulphites are widely used as a preservative and antioxidant additive in food. The aim of this study was to assess dietary sulphite intake in adults aged 35-65 years and in children aged 4-18 years living in the Basque Country, northern Spain. We determined sulphite concentrations in 909 samples covering 16 food types. The maximum permitted levels were exceeded in 17% of samples. Making recommended assumptions for non-quantifiable results, estimates of mean lower and upper bounds were calculated for sulphite concentrations in each food type. These sulphite data were combined with consumption data derived from 8417 adults from the European Prospective Investigation in Cancer and Nutrition cohort in Gipuzkoa, recruited in 1992-1995 using a diet history method, and 1055 children from the Basque Country Nutrition Children Survey, conducted in 2004-2005 using two 24-h recall questionnaires to assess diet. The results were compared with the acceptable daily intake (ADI) proposed by the Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA). The mean dietary exposure to sulphites was 0.08 mg kg⁻¹ bw day⁻¹, only 11% of the ADI in the overall group of children (4-18 years old), but the acceptable intake was exceeded by 4% of 4-6 year olds. For the adults (35-65 years old), the mean dietary exposure was 0.31 mg kg⁻¹ bw day⁻¹, 45% of the ADI, but the acceptable intake was exceeded in 14.6% of cases. The major contributing foods were minced meat and other meat products for children and wine for adults.

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