December 20, 2019
Today the FDA is posting results from the second round of testing for 16 types of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in foods collected for the Total Diet Study (TDS). These findings, along with the first round of testing results posted in October 2019, will inform our continued work to understand the occurrence of PFAS in the general food supply. TDS foods represent a broad range of foods, including breads, cakes, fruits, dairy, vegetables, meats, poultry, fish, and bottled water, that the average consumer might eat and that were not specifically collected from areas of known environmental PFAS contamination.
The results posted today show that out of 88 foods, one sample—tilapia— had a detectable level of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), which is a type of PFAS. This is the same PFAS that was detected in the two samples with detectable levels—ground turkey and tilapia— reported in the first round of testing in foods collected for the TDS. Both sample sizes are limited and cannot be used to draw definitive conclusions. Based on the best available current science, the FDA has no indication that PFOS levels found in the limited sampling from these TDS data sets present a human health concern.
The TDS is conducted on an on-going basis and serves as the FDA’s primary method of monitoring levels of various pesticide residues, contaminants, and nutrients in foods. PFAS are not currently part of the TDS. Results from our testing for PFAS in TDS foods will be used to determine how the FDA will monitor PFAS in foods going forward, including whether steps should be taken to include it in the TDS, and/or if targeted sampling assignments are necessary for certain foods.
While two samples of tilapia have detectable levels of PFOS, these levels are very low and are not likely a health concern. Therefore, there is no scientific evidence that supports recommending consumers avoid a particular food, including tilapia or other seafood. As part of a healthy eating pattern, fish and other protein-rich foods have nutrients that may offer health benefits for children and adults.
The results to date show that the 16 PFAS chemicals - for which we have a validated method - were not detected in most of the foods analyzed from Total Diet Study. The FDA is committed to continuing our surveillance of the food supply and research in this area, and to informing the public as new information becomes available.
To help increase clarity around questions of PFAS and food safety, we have also posted a new Questions and Answers page for consumers on fda.gov.
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