EFSA Lowers Exposure Limits for Inorganic Arsenic
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has updated its analysis of the occurrence of arsenic in food in Europe, setting lower estimates of dietary exposure to inorganic arsenic than the agency reported in 2009. The analysis includes nearly 3,000 data samples of inorganic arsenic, evidently more toxic than organic compounds, and EFSA reports that the estimates’ accuracy has improved due to new consumption and occurrence data and a more detailed classification of foods.
Arsenic, which has been linked to health problems such as skin lesions, cardiovascular disease and some forms of cancer, is a widely found contaminant that occurs both naturally and as a result of human activity. It appears in various forms, which can be either organic—containing carbon—or inorganic. Food, particularly grain-based processed products, such as wheat bread, rice, milk, dairy products, and drinking water are the main sources of exposure for the general European population. Although the European Union has not established recommended maximum levels of arsenic in food, some member states have set national guidelines.