Last updated on 25 March 2004

Survey of metals and other elements

Food Survey Information Sheet 48/04

Total Diet Study 2000 of 12 elements – aluminium, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, manganese, mercury, nickel, selenium, tin and zinc.

The key facts of this survey are:

  • The concentrations of each of the elements in the food groups were lower than or similar to those reported in the previous TDS, conducted in 1997, with the exception of aluminium and mercury.
  • Population exposures to the elements have generally declined over the course of the TDS programme, with exposures to most of these elements now at the lowest level.
  • The independent Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COT) evaluated the results of this survey and concluded that exposures to aluminium, cadmium, chromium, copper, manganese, nickel, selenium, tin and zinc for each consumer group are unlikely to be of any toxicological concern.
  • The Committee also noted that the dietary exposure to arsenic identified in the survey was unlikely to constitute a hazard to health, and that the downward trend for total arsenic was reassuring.
  • The Committee looked carefully at consumer exposure to mercury. Comparison of total dietary mercury exposure with the Provisional Tolerable Weekly Intake for methylmercury is highly precautionary, and the COT concluded that the exposures were not of toxicological concern.
  • The Committee concluded that dietary exposures to lead are unlikely to result in adverse effects, but that efforts should continue to reduce exposure to lead from all sources.

Related Items