Children's Food Project – 2008-2009 Report on sampling

Executive Summary

The main objectives of the 2008 – 2009 Children's Food Project (CFP) were:

  • to assess the compliance status for pesticide residues in foods consumed by infants and toddlers aged 0 – 24 months;
  • to provide data to Health Canada that can be used for health risk assessment of foods consumed by children.

In the 2008 – 2009 CFP, a total of 382 processed food samples were purchased in the Ottawa – Gatineau area. The samples included a variety of infant cereals, formulas (soy and dairy-based), fruit and vegetable purees, meat and vegetable purees, cookies, prepared meals and flavoured water. All samples were obtained from national grocery stores and drugstores. The samples were analyzed for pesticide residues and metals. A total of 2449 analytical tests were performed which corresponds to more than 127 000 results.

The scope of pesticide residue analysis was expanded in the 2008 – 2009 CFP, from approximately 300 to over 400 pesticide residues. Approximately 100 new pesticide residues can now be detected in selected infant foods by a new LC/ESI-MS-MS method. The new method is also capable of detecting pesticide residues that were previously detected using single residue methods. All samples were either analyzed for pesticide residues using a multi-residue method that detects 299 individual carbamate, organochlorine or organophosphate compounds in processed fruit, vegetable and meat products or a multi-residue method that detects 32 pesticide residues in dairy products. Single-residue methods were used to detect alar, amitraz, carbamates, carbendazim, ethylene thiourea (ETU), formetanate and thiabendazole in selected samples. All samples were analyzed for metals using an analytical method capable of detecting 15 different metals – aluminum, arsenic, boron, cadmium, chromium, copper, iron, mercury, manganese, nickel, lead, selenium, tin, titanium, and zinc.

Of the 382 samples tested, 294 (77.0%) contained no detected pesticide residues. The remaining 88 samples (23.0%) had detected levels of pesticide residues, with 33 (8.6%) containing more than one chemical residue type. Of the 88 samples with detected pesticide residues, one (0.3% of all samples) contained a pesticide residue level in excess of the 0.1 ppm Maximum Residue Limit (MRL) and was therefore in violation of paragraph 4(d) of the Food and Drugs Act (FDA). The violative level of pesticide detected does not, however, pose a human health risk. The majority of the pesticide residue results (99.7%) were in compliance with Canadian MRLs.

Heavy metals that may pose a health risk to human health include arsenic, cadmium, mercury and lead. The levels of most metals detected in this study were below established tolerances. Consistent with the previous year's results, higher arsenic levels were found in several rice products and infant formulas. Health Canada completed an assessment of the total arsenic results from this report.

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