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Food Safety Focus (177th Issue, April 2021) – Food Incident Highlight

Can Foods Affect the Smell of Urine?

Some people have queried why urine smells after consumption of coffee or some other foods.

Certain foods like coffee, garlic, onion, asparagus, Brussel sprouts and curry may contain certain substances known to temporarily impart a strong smell to urine when consumed in sufficient amounts. The smell can be intensified by drinking insufficient water; those compounds will be excreted in higher concentrations in urine and lead to a more pungent smell.

While the phenomenon generally poses no food safety risks, this can be easily alleviated by drinking enough water, diluting the compounds as a result. However, smelly urine can be caused by medical conditions (e.g. uncontrolled diabetes, urinary tract infections). If smelly urine persists, possibly combined with other symptoms, medical attention should be sought immediately.