August 9, 2022

FDA Releases New Total Diet Study Report on Toxic Elements

The FDA has released their new Total Diet Study Report that focuses on the presence of toxic compounds in the foods we eat. The overall takeaway is that the key toxic elements were not detected in most (68%) of the tested foods. The analysis was conducted in foods that were collected from 2018 through 2020. Overall, 3,276 food, beverages, and water products were studied.

FDA Releases New Total Diet Study Report on Toxic Elements

The key elements studied were lead, arsenic, including inorganic arsenic, the most dangerous form, cadmium, and mercury. Overall, lead was found in 15% of the samples, arsenic in 43%, cadmium in 61%, and mercury in 8%. The categories of food included in the study were alcohol, baked goods, baby food, beverages, candies, condiments, dairy, fruit, grains, meats, ingredients like sugar and flour, compound foods such as canned soups and meals, nuts, seeds, restaurant foods, sauces, seafood, vegetables, and water.

The foods that had the highest concentration of the elements were surprising. For lead, teething biscuits, sandwich cookies, white wine, low-calorie ranch dressing, and sweet potato based baby food had the highest levels of contamination. For arsenic, canned tuna, fish sticks, baked salmon, pre cooked shrimp, and canned tuna were problematic. For cadmium, spinach, sunflower seeds, potato ships, leaf lettuce, and French fries had the highest concentration. And for mercury, canned tuna, baked cod, baked salmon, cooked catfish, and precooked shrimp had the highest levels.

The FDA has set up action levels for some products; all of the results from those products fell below established levels. Those products include apple juice, chocolate and hard candy, and infant rice cereal.

In fact, infant and baby foods have been on the radar for heavy metal contamination for some time. In 2019, the FDA conducted more sampling for the Total Diet Study Report of these products. Of the 384 samples, 65% of the products had no detectable levels for lead, arsenic, mercury, and cadmium.

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