Crops have higher arsenic levels in the South West

University study reveals higher arsenic concentrations in crop samples from farms in South West.

Crops grown in south-west England have been found to contain higher concentrations of arsenic than those grown elsewhere, according to latest research.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA), which commissioned the research, said however that the levels reported do not increase concern about risk to human health.

The disparity is linked to the relatively high natural levels of the toxic element in the region's soils, the study added. The University of Aberdeen research found that the relationship between soil arsenic levels and levels in produce varied widely from crop to crop.

Carrots, potatoes, rhubarb and currants from sample farms in Cornwall contained arsenic levels on average several times higher than comparison crops from Aberdeenshire.

The report concluded: "Eating habits of those in arsenic-elevated soil regions need to be assessed to predict risk of exposure from inorganic arsenic."

Overall, leafy vegetables (kale, chard, lettuce, greens and spinach) were found to have the highest concentrations of arsenic and cadmium. But correlation with levels of either element in the soil was low or absent in these cases.

The study also recorded levels of arsenic in potato skins at six nanograms per gram, 75 times greater than that in the flesh.

Food regulations Levels in question after safety ruling

Both the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), to which the University of Aberdeen report has been passed, have previously urged that levels of arsenic, cadmium and lead in food should be reduced.

There are currently no EU-wide regulations for arsenic levels in food after the EFSA ruled that previous safety limits were inadequate.

But in a statement, the FSA said: "The levels of metals reported in this study do not increase concern about risk to human health. Our current advice on how to wash and peel fruits and vegetables remains the same."

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Read These Next

Grower sundries - Growing media for edibles

Grower sundries - Growing media for edibles

Better control, efficiency and productivity are among the benefits offered by the latest products, Gavin McEwan discovers.

Business Planning - Brace now for Brexit impact

Business Planning - Brace now for Brexit impact

Neville Stein advises how businesses can act now to protect themselves against higher plant import costs after the Brexit deadline.

What do Stockbridge's new research facilities offer the industry?

What do Stockbridge's new research facilities offer the industry?

Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +


The Horticulture Week Business Awards is now open for entries

Horticulture Week Top UK FRUIT PRODUCERS

See our exclusive RANKING of UK Fruit Producers by annual turnover plus the FULL REPORT AND ANALYSIS.

Horticulture Jobs

Pest & Disease Tracker bulletin 

The latest pest and disease alerts, how to treat them, plus EAMU updates, sent direct to your inbox.

Sign up here

Professor Geoffrey Dixon

GreenGene International chair Geoff Dixon on the business of fresh produce production

Read Professor Geoffrey Dixon