Send to

Choose Destination
Toxicol Lett. 2002 Feb 28;127(1-3):29-41.

Food contamination by metals and pesticides in the European Union. Should we worry?

Author information

Lebanese Atomic Energy Commission/CNRS, Beirut, Lebanon, France.


The estimation of the risk associated with dietary intakes of heavy metals and pesticide residues by the consumer is a vital and integral part of regulatory processes. The exposure of the consumer is compared directly to the acceptable daily intake (ADI) for pesticides and to the tolerable daily intake (TDI) for heavy metals. The exposure is obtained using the basic equation: Exposure (mg/kg b.w./day)=Consumption (mg/kg b.w./day) x Residue (mg/kg). The establishment of the ADI and the TDI is based on the results of toxicological studies that involve the determination of the lowest-no-observed-adverse-effect level/10 (SF1) x10 (SF2), where SF corresponds to 'Safety Factor'. SF1 and SF2 account for interspecies and intraspecies variability, respectively. In order to evaluate the risk for the consumer, that is associated to the presence of heavy metals and pesticides in food, a review of the level of contamination in European countries has been made. The exposure of European consumers to lead, cadmium, arsenic and mercury is superior to the TDI. For pesticides, the first step is to compare the detected amount of residues of a specific pesticide to the maximum residue level (MRL) authorized in foodstuffs. If the residue level in food exceeds the MRL, the theoretical maximum daily intakes and the ADI have to be taken into account in order to assess the risk for the consumer.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center