Children's Food Project – 2009-2010 Report on sampling

Executive Summary

The main objectives of the 2009 – 2010 Children's Food Project (CFP) were:

  • to assess the compliance status for pesticide residues in foods consumed by children aged 2 – 15 years;
  • to provide data to Health Canada that can be used for health risk assessment of foods consumed by children;
  • to gather preliminary pesticide data from a new scope of pesticide residues in foods commonly consumed by children aged 2 – 15 years.

In the 2009 – 2010 CFP, a total of 821 processed and manufactured food samples were purchased in the Ottawa – Gatineau area. Samples included a variety of candy, cereals, chocolate, dairy products, juice, meat products, nuts and seeds and processed fruit and vegetable products. The samples were obtained from national grocery stores, small local grocery stores and drugstores. The samples were analyzed for pesticide residues and metals. A total of 2530 analytical tests were performed which corresponds to more than 223 750 results.

The scope of pesticide residue analysis encompasses over 400 pesticide residues. Most samples were analyzed for pesticide residues. The methods included an LC/ESI-MS-MS multi-residue method (142 analytes) introduced in the 2008 – 2009 CFP; a multi-residue GC-MS method that detects carbamate, organochlorine or organophosphate compounds (299 analytes) or a multi-residue method that detects pesticide residues in dairy products (32 analytes); and single-residue method used to detect benomyl (carbendazim residues), ethylenebisdithiocarbamate (EBDC) fungicides, ethylene thiourea (ETU), formetanate and thiabendazole in selected samples. All 821 samples were analyzed for metals using an analytical method capable of detecting 18 different metals – aluminium, antimony, arsenic, beryllium, boron, cadmium, chromium, copper, iron, mercury, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, lead, selenium, tin, titanium, and zinc.

Of the 803 samples tested for pesticide residues, 643 (80.1%) contained no detected pesticide residues. The remaining 160 samples (19.9%) had detected levels of pesticide residues, with 57 (7.1%) containing more than one specific analyte. Of the 160 samples with detected pesticide residues, 11 (1.4% of all samples) contained pesticide residue levels in excess of established MRLs or the 0.1 ppm General Maximum Residue Limit (GMRL) and were therefore in violation of paragraph 4(d) of the Food and Drugs Act (FDA). The violative products are unlikely to pose a significant risk to the health of children. The majority of the pesticide residue results (98.6 %) were in compliance with Canadian MRLs.

Heavy metals that may pose the greatest inherent risk to human health at low levels include arsenic, cadmium, mercury and lead. The levels of most metals detected in this study were below established MRLs and tolerances. Consistent with previous year's results, higher arsenic levels were found in several rice-based and seafood products. All of the metals detected were within the range of typical background concentrations observed in similar foods.

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