Metals in food a concern for WA children, study

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 26th November 2014
Metals in food a concern for WA children, study
Metals in food a concern for WA children, study

Children in Western Australia are being exposed to potentially elevated levels of metals from their food, according to research from Edith Cowan University researchers have found.

Lead researcher Dr Anna Callan on the study, recently published in the journal Food Additives & Contaminants,  said the amount of cadmium, nickel and manganese that children were estimated to ingest in food was higher than expected.

“There is emerging research that even low concentrations of certain metals can have negative health effects,” Dr Callan said.

Study method

The concentration of 11 metals was measured in 253 foods from WA supermarkets which was then used to calculate the average dietary metals intake for children.

“Our modelling shows that the average cadmium intake by Perth children aged eight is 60 per cent of the amount recommended by the World Health Organisation and exceeds the European Food Safety Authority guideline,” Dr Callan said. “Even at low concentrations, cadmium has been associated with health effects such as a reduction in bone density in adults,” she said.

“The measured metals concentrations in individual foods in Western Australia were generally low,” she said. “But when combined in a modelled dietary intake the results showed an elevated intake of some metals, particularly for younger children,” she said.

More research needed to determine health effects

Dr Callan said more research was needed to determine the potential health effects of dietary exposure to metals in children.

“Metals are found naturally in the soil, but some metals are also increasing in the environment as a result of agricultural practices, industry and urbanisation,” Dr Callan said.

Dr Callan’s advice for concerned parents was to make sure their children were eating a wide variety of food.

“A healthy balanced and varied diet is important for everyone and especially children,” Dr Callan said. “Eating a variety of foods will help to minimise the risks of metals exposure.”