Scientists with the University of Texas School of Public Health have released a study on persistent organic pollutant (POP) levels in the U.S. food supply.
The scientists looked at levels of three major groups of contaminants, PFCs, PCBs, and pesticides. 31 types of food, including produce, meat, and dairy, were tested for 32 pesticides, seven PCBs, and 11 different PFCs. PFCs were found in 17 of the foods; 6 of the 7 types of PCBs were found in salmon and canned sardines. Pesticides were found in 23 of the 31 foods tested.
The levels of chemicals varied dramatically in the different types of food. Foods with a high fat content had relatively high levels of pesticides. The highest levels of DDT were found in whole milk yogurt; the greatest numbers of PCBs found primarily in fish, especially salmon. When compared with produce and other types of meat, fish was usually found to have much higher levels of contaminants.
The researchers also looked at the overall consumption of different foods to calculate the daily intake of persistent organic chemicals for the average American. For all chemicals measured the total daily intake was not higher than the EPA's reference doses or the European Union's highest acceptable level for pesticide contamination of food.
The researchers pointed out that while the effects of each single chemical compound are known, there is no research on the effects of having a complicated mixture of many organic pollutants.
Potentially toxic interactions between the chemicals, even when present at lower levels, is an issue that has not been researched. Previous USDA studies have not tested the same foods from year to year, so comparing data has not been possible.
Aporte: Andrea Martín