US updates screening of metals in food

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Ingestion of heavy metals can contribute to a wide variety of adverse health effects including cancers and developmental impacts

According to a recent study, exposures to heavy metals like cadmium, arsenic and mercury in food were found to be below federal reference values for safety. However, intake of the metal lead from food and water in young children was found to be roughly equal to recent reference values set by the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA), which may warrant further discussion on ways to reduce exposures.

The Institute for the Advancement of Food and Nutrition Sciences (IAFNS) has recently collaborated with the US FDA’s Joint Institute on Food Safety and Applied Nutrition to develop an interactive, web-based Metal Dietary Exposure Screening Tool that can be used to rapidly evaluate potential health risks associated with the detection of heavy metals in foods and food ingredients.

The metal screening tool was made possible by the availability of new federal reference values for metals and updated survey information on public exposures to heavy metals through the diet.

The goal of the US FDA’s newly formed Toxic Elements Working group is to reduce exposures to heavy metals in food, dietary supplements and cosmetics. The FDA has prioritized heavy metals such as lead, mercury, arsenic, and cadmium because high levels of exposure to these metals are likely to have the largest impact on public health.

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