MAFF plays down health risks of nitrate in food and water

A report on the health implications of dietary intakes of nitrate and related compounds was published in April by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) with reassurances that its findings give no cause for concern, despite its potentially explosive implications for the farming, water and food and drink industries.1 The report shows that nitrate intakes by many vegetarians exceed an acceptable daily intake (ADI) set at EC level, and that average intakes of nitrite are only just within the ADI. It also contains worrying new findings about the formation of N-nitroso compounds in the human body from ingested nitrate.

The report was prepared for the Steering Group on Chemical Aspects of Food Surveillance by a working party set up in the mid-1980s to carry out surveys of nitrate, nitrite, N-nitroso compounds in food and drink. Its first report was issued in 1987. Another advisory body, the Committee on the Toxicity of Chemicals (COT), concluded from the data which it had assembled that the evidence did not exclude the possibility of a carcinogenic risk in hu

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