On June 17, 2013 the consumer and economic program “Markt” aired by the German TV channel Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR) reported the presence of perchlorate on European fruit and vegetables. The NDR analyzed 17 samples and found in almost all measurable levels of perchlorate. Three samples were found to have levels of perchlorate that would result in exposures above the Provisional Maximum Tolerable Daily Intake (PMTDI) of 0.01 mg/kg body weight (bw)/day recommended by the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) (Recommendation 015/2013). Conventional produce was found to have higher levels of perchlorate than organic produce.

In response to the findings the BfR stated in a press release published June 18, 2013 that it considers the perchlorate levels of the three samples concerning. It concludes that single exposures to this contaminated produce may have acute effects on the thyroid function of individuals with prior thyroid dysfunction, newborns and children. Such effects include a reduction of the ability to absorb iodine. The BfR states that it is not possible to draw conclusions for the risk of chronic exposure to perchlorate from these measurements. It will be necessary to review all measured perchlorate levels for this purpose. In the press release, the BfR states that it will publish a more detailed recommendation after reviewing all available information.

The origin of perchlorate on the produce remains unclear. In Europe perchlorate is neither authorized as a pesticide nor as a biocide. Perchlorate is used in medications. In the US, potassium perchlorate is authorized as an indirect food additive. It is not known whether perchlorate is also used in food contact materials in Europe.

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BfR press release

BfR recommendation 015/2013