2011-2012 Children's Food Project

Executive Summary

The main objectives of the 2011 – 2012 Children's Food Project (CFP) were to:

  • assess the compliance status for pesticide residues in foods consumed by children aged 2 – 15 years;
  • focus on foods marketed for school lunches; and
  • provide data to Health Canada that can be used for health risk assessment of foods consumed by children.

In the 2011 – 2012 CFP, a total of 710 processed and manufactured food samples were purchased in the Ottawa – Gatineau area. Samples included a variety of cookies/crackers/cakes, dried fruit, cereal-, dairy-, fruit- and vegetable based products targeted to and consumed by children aged 2 to 15 years. Samples were analysed for pesticide residues and metals. A total of 2,310 analytical tests were performed, corresponding to over 286,000 results.

Of the 710 samples tested for pesticide residues, 491 (69%) contained no detected pesticide residues. The remaining 219 samples (31%) had detected levels of pesticide residues, with 68 samples (10%) containing three or more pesticide analytes. Of the 219 samples with detectable levels of pesticide residues, two exceeded established maximum residue limits (MRLs). The overall compliance rate of the 2011 – 2012 CFP was 99.7%. The violations were assessed to determine the appropriate follow-up action.

There are very few Canadian maximum levels established for metals in food. Heavy metals that may pose the greatest inherent risk to human health at low levels include arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury. Consistent with previous years' results, the highest arsenic levels were observed in rice-based products. The majority of the metal levels detected were within the range of typical background concentrations observed in similar foods.

Data obtained from studies like the Children's Food Project are instrumental in the assessment of the dietary exposure of Canadian children to pesticide residues and metals. The 2011 – 2012 Children's Food Project represents a typical overview of the nature of pesticide residues and metals in the Canadian food supply.

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