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Environ Health Perspect. 1977 Aug;19:83-7.

Levels of arsenic in the United States food supply.


At the present time, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) accords the highest priority to mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic, selenium, and zinc in its program on toxic elements in foods. The only regulatory levels for arsenic in foods in the U. S. are the tolerances which have been established for its residues in specified foods, resulting from the application of arsenical pesticides on food and feed crops and from animal feed additives. FDA has monitored for arsenic in its Total Diet Survey since the inception of this program. The data from this program indicate that the average daily intake for arsenic (as As(2)O(3)) has decreased from about 130 mug/day in 1968 to about 20 mug/day in 1974. Most of the arsenic is found in the meat-fish-poultry food class of the total diet. In individual foods, the highest levels were found in fish, with a mean level of about 1.5 ppm (as As(2)O(3)) in the edible portion of finfish. Much lower levels were found in all the other food types analyzed; of these, the highest levels found were a mean level of 0.08 ppm in chicken and 0.16 ppm in rice. FDA toxicologists do not believe that the average daily intake of arsenic, or its levels in the different food commodities, pose a hazard to the consumer.

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