Tracking Metals in the Diet

The potential presence of heavy metals in food products and ingredients is a concern because these metals are ubiquitous in the environment and, as such, can reach the food supply via food crops and water sources. Ingestion of heavy metals can contribute to a wide variety of adverse health effects including developmental impacts. Infants and young children are especially sensitive to the adverse effects of heavy metals.

The Institute for the Advancement of Food and Nutrition Sciences (IAFNS) recently collaborated with the Joint Institute for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (JIFSAN) to develop an interactive, web-based Metal Dietary Exposure Screening Tool that can be used to rapidly evaluate potential health risks associated with the detection of heavy metals in foods and food ingredients. The metal screening tool was made possible by the availability of newly published reference values for heavy metals and updated survey information on public exposures to heavy metals through constantly evolving diets. The tool can be accessed here.

In addition, the IAFNS Food and Chemical Safety committee is about to launch a multi-institution project to prioritize metals and commodities for action and develop a framework for mitigating and minimizing the presence of heavy metals in foods. To learn more about joining us in building a more comprehensive framework and screening tool, contact us at

This effort is sponsored by the IAFNS Food and Chemical Safety Committee.