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EFSA republishes scientific opinion on perchlorate in fruit and vegetables

27 May 2015  •  Author(s): Victoria White

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has republished its scientific opinion on the risks to public health from perchlorate in food, particularly in fruit and vegetables.


Adopted in September 2014, the opinion has been revised because of a technical error. EFSA’s experts have re-assessed dietary exposure to perchlorate using corrected data on perchlorate levels in food and taking into account more recently available occurrence data.

Perchlorate occurs naturally in the environment, in deposits of nitrate and potash, and can be formed in the atmosphere and precipitate into soil and groundwater. It also occurs as an environmental contaminant arising from the use of nitrate fertilisers. Perchlorate can also be formed during the degradation of sodium hypochlorite used to disinfect water and can contaminate the water supply. The use of natural fertilisers and perchlorate contaminated irrigation water may lead to substantial concentrations in leafy vegetables.

Chronic dietary exposure to perchlorate is of potential concern

EFSA’s experts have established a tolerable daily intake (TDI) of 0.3 micrograms per kilogram of body weight per day, based on the inhibition of thyroid iodine uptake in healthy adults. The TDI is an estimate of the amount of a substance that people can consume on a daily basis during their whole life without any appreciable risk to health.

EFSA estimated chronic and ‘short-term’ exposure to perchlorate. A single exposure to perchlorate at levels found in food and water is unlikely to cause adverse effects on human health, including the more vulnerable groups of the population. Overall, chronic dietary exposure to perchlorate is of potential concern, in particular for high consumers in the younger age groups of the population with mild to moderate iodine deficiency. Exposure to perchlorate may be of concern for infants breast-fed by iodine-deficient mothers. The re-assessment of dietary exposure did not affect these overall conclusions.

To read the EFSA’s full scientific opinion on the risks from perchlorate in food, please visit: www.efsa.europa.eu/efsajournal/pub

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