Doubts over MAFF reassurance on metal contamination of vegetables

Reassuring conclusions about dietary intakes of metals have been drawn by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) following a study of metal contamination of vegetables and milk produced on farms near industrial sites.1 But there is doubt about their validity because of MAFF's choice of industrial processes and the fact that most of the vegetable-growing sites were too remote to be affected by fall-out from low-level emissions - though even so metal contamination of some vegetables was above proposed EC limits.

Vegetables and cows' milk were analysed for 13 metals and other elements. The milk samples were taken in 1994 for a survey of dioxins in milk produced near 28 industrial sites. The vegetable samples were taken in 1996 from 40 allotments, pick-your-own farms and farm shops near major industrial sources of heavy metals in Redcar, Bristol, Newcastle, Rotherham and the Team Valley.

Contaminant levels in milk were not out of line with results

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