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  5. Testing Results for Arsenic, Lead, Cadmium and Mercury
  1. Environmental Contaminants in Food

Testing Results for Arsenic, Lead, Cadmium and Mercury

The FDA tests food for arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury to monitor the safety of the U.S. food supply, enforce FDA regulations, and inform agency guidance to industry and advice to consumers. Testing may be targeted to a specific category of food, such as foods commonly eaten by children under 2 years of age, or to a specific food or food group. Testing may also be conducted in response to reports of elevated contaminant levels in certain foods. Testing may occur at the FDA laboratories, laboratories we contract with, or at state laboratories as part of our cooperative agreement with states.

Data on lead in the tables below helped to inform the FDA’s action levels for lead in foods intended for babies and young children. Data on arsenic, cadmium, and mercury will help inform the development of action levels.

Carrageenan is used in very low levels in food as an emulsifier, stabilizer, and thickener. It is derived from seaweeds, which like other natural sources, may contain arsenic, lead, or cadmium. The test results from this limited sample were well below the specification levels for arsenic, cadmium, and lead established by the Food Chemicals Codex, 13th edition, and by the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives, and adopted by the Codex Alimentarius.

Additional testing results are available in FDA scientific articles and reports, available on the lead, arsenic, and mercury, and Total Diet Study pages.

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