Perchlorate Levels in Food Safe for Most, FDA Says

Bloomberg News
Thursday, May 31, 2007

Levels of a chemical used to make rocket fuel found in commonly consumed food are not high enough to pose a health risk to most people, including children and pregnant women, U.S. regulators said.

The Food and Drug Administration, in a preliminary estimate, measured perchlorate levels in 27 food items, including fruits, vegetables, fish and grain products. The agency found that, for most people's diets, the levels fell below a standard adopted in 2005 by the Environmental Protection Agency.

That standard, based on recommendations from the National Academy of Sciences, deemed as acceptable the consumption of food and drinks containing up to 0.7 micrograms per kilogram of body weight, more than 20 times the amount of perchlorate contamination in food found to be safe under previous standards. The Natural Resources Defense Council, a lobbying group, opposed the increase in the allowable level.

"I don't think the current standard is safe for vulnerable populations," said Jennifer Sass, a staff scientist at the council. The new FDA estimates show that some food items "come perilously close to what EPA considers an unsafe level," she said.

Perchlorate has been found in 35 states, and more than 11 million people have it in their drinking water at 4 parts per billion, according to a 2005 report by the NAS, a presidential advisory board for the sciences and a research institution. Perchlorate is found in other things, such as milk and produce.

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