Food Safety Focus (38th Issue, September 2009) – Food Incident Highlight

Cadmium in Brazil Mushroom

In July, excessive level of cadmium was detected in a batch of Brazil mushroom imported to Taiwan from Mainland China .

Cadmium is a metallic element that occurs naturally in the earth's crust. It can be released to the environment by industrial activities, such as electroplating, manufacture of nickel-cadmium batteries, production of fertilizers, etc. For non-smokers, food is the main source of cadmium. However, for smokers, tobacco smoke is an important source of exposure of cadmium. Intake of cadmium from the diet rarely causes acute toxicity. As for chronic toxicity of cadmium, the main concern is its adverse effects on the kidneys.

Prolonged consumption of foods with excessive level of cadmium may cause adverse effects. Therefore, the Centre for Food Safety advises the public to consume a balanced diet to avoid excessive exposure to contaminants from a small range of food items. Furthermore, another good practice is to soak and wash vegetables in clean water for one hour before cooking.