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Food Safety Focus ( 116th Issue, March 2016 ) – Food Incident Highlight

Perchlorate in Food

In recent months, the media has expressed concern on the health effects of perchlorate in food such as tea leaves. Perchlorate may have an effect directly on the thyroid, blocking uptake of iodine into the follicular cell, thus potentially may cause hypothyroidism.

Perchlorate is a ubiquitous environmental contaminant. Fertilisers, certain manmade industrial products (e.g. ammonium perchlorate used in rocket propellants and fireworks) and natural sources (e.g. rainwater and deposits of nitrate and potash) are potential sources of perchlorate contamination in food. Nevertheless, its entry pathway into the food chain has not been clearly identified.

The Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives has reviewed the available data concerning the level of perchlorate in food and considers that the estimated amount of perchlorate consumed from food and drinking-water are not of health concern. Consumers are advised to maintain a healthy diet and eat a variety of foods across all food groups daily.