2004 CPEO Military List Archive

From: Lenny Siegel <lsiegel@cpeo.org>
Date: 29 Nov 2004 17:23:02 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] FDA sampling results on perchlorate in food
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has posted the results of
its agricultural sampling for perchlorate. The original of the text
below, as well as the tables showing the results, may be found at
http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/clo4data.html. An earlier FDA fact sheet
may be found at http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/clo4qa.html.



Exploratory Data on Perchlorate in Food

Perchlorate is both a naturally occurring and manmade chemical.
Naturally occurring perchlorate, for example, is found in nitrate
fertilizer deposits in Chile. Most of the perchlorate manufactured in
the United States is used as the primary ingredient of solid rocket
propellant. Perchlorate is also used in pyrotechnics, such as fireworks,
gun powder, explosives, and highway flares. In addition, perchlorate is
used in a wide variety of industrial processes, including, but not
limited to, tanning and leather finishing, rubber manufacture, paint and
enamel production and additives in lubricating oils. In recent years
there has been increasing interest in perchlorate levels in soil, ground
water, drinking water, and irrigation water around the country and what
health effects it may have.

FDA recognizes the potential for perchlorate contamination in food
through the use of contaminated irrigation water, processing water, and
source waters for bottling. In order to better understand the answers to
these questions, FDA has begun to determine the occurrence of
perchlorate in a variety of foods to evaluate exposure to perchlorate
from food and to support any action that might be needed to protect the
public health. 

The data

FDA is now posting an initial set of perchlorate data that were
collected through August 19, 2004, to inform the public of FDA's
progress. The results reflect perchlorate levels detected in samples of
individual food products. 

Tables 1 and 2 show perchlorate levels in lettuce and bottled water
samples, respectively, collected as part of the initial phase of FDA's
field assignment, "Collection and Analysis of Food for Perchlorate,"
that was issued on December 23, 2003, and posted on FDA's website.
Lettuce samples were collected at the grower or packing shed while
bottled water samples were collected at retail locations. For sample
analysis, outermost leaves of each lettuce head were removed, similar to
the actions typically taken by a consumer prior to consumption.

Table 3 shows perchlorate levels found in milk samples that were
collected and analyzed as part of FDA's research and method development,
as well as part of the second phase of FDA's field assignment. All milk
samples, except for raw milk samples that were obtained from a research
facility in Maryland, were collected at retail. 

Limits of the data

These data are exploratory and should not be understood to be a
reflection of the distribution of perchlorate in the U.S. food supply.
The data cover a limited number of food categories, a limited number of
products in those categories, and a limited number of brands. Also, the
data do not fully address the variation from one unit of a food product
to another unit of the same product, or from one production lot or
production area of a food product to another lot. Also, the choice of
food products for testing in this exploratory survey should not be taken
as an indicator of food product choices by consumers. 

What consumers should understand

Consumers should not view the perchlorate levels as an indicator of
perchlorate exposure, or as the "risk" of eating certain foods. First,
perchlorate levels alone do not equate to perchlorate exposure;
calculating exposure requires consideration of both perchlorate levels,
and the amounts of food that consumers eat. Second, estimates of
perchlorate exposure take into account not single food items, but the
wide variety of foods found in a range of diets. Third, the scope of the
data is too limited to properly consider potential sources of variation
in measured perchlorate levels, such as variability between different
units or lots of food.

Until more is known about the health effects of perchlorate and its
occurrence in foods, FDA continues to recommend that consumers eat a
balanced diet, choosing a variety of foods that are low in trans fat and
saturated fat, and rich in high-fiber grains, fruits, and vegetables.
FDA does not recommend at this time that consumers should alter their
infants' and children's diets and eating habits to avoid exposure to perchlorate.



Lenny Siegel
Director, Center for Public Environmental Oversight
c/o PSC, 278-A Hope St., Mountain View, CA 94041
Voice: 650/961-8918 or 650/969-1545
Fax: 650/961-8918
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