• Open Access

Scientific Opinion on the risks to public health related to the presence of perchlorate in food, in particular fruits and vegetables


  • EFSA Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain (CONTAM)

  • Panel members: Diane Benford, Sandra Ceccatelli, Bruce Cottrill, Michael DiNovi, Eugenia Dogliotti, Lutz Edler, Peter Farmer, Peter Fürst, Laurentius (Ron) Hoogenboom, Helle Katrine Knutsen, Anne-Katrine Lundebye, Manfred Metzler, Antonio Mutti (as of 6 October 2014), Carlo Stefano Nebbia, Michael O'Keeffe, Annette Petersen (as of 6 October 2014), Ivonne Rietjens (until 2 May 2014), Dieter Schrenk, Vittorio Silano (until 21 July 2014), Hendrik van Loveren, Christiane Vleminckx, and Pieter Wester.
  • Correspondence: contam@efsa.europa.eu
  • Acknowledgement: The Panel wishes to thank the members of the Working Group on perchlorate in food: Diane Benford, Michael DiNovi, Andrew Hart, Helle Knutsen, Peter Laurberg, Ivonne Rietjens (until 2 May 2014) and Christiane Vleminckx for the preparatory work on this scientific opinion and EFSA staff: Davide Arcella, Katleen Baert, Bistra Benkova, Marco Binaglia, Mari Eskola and Karen Mackay for the support provided to this scientific opinion. The Panel also wishes to thank the members of the Working Group on perchlorate in food_correcting opinion: Michael DiNovi, Peter Fürst, Helle Knutsen, and Christiane Vleminckx for preparation of the corrected version of this scientific opinion. The CONTAM Panel acknowledges all European competent institutions that provided occurrence data on perchlorate in food, and supported the data collection for the Comprehensive European Food Consumption Database. The Panel also acknowledges all other organisations that provided additional occurrence data on perchlorate in food.
  • Adoption date: 30 September 2014
  • Published date: 17 October 2014
  • Correction/Erratum: In the version published on 4 December 2014, corrections were made to the summary, main body of the text and conclusions on the occurrence levels for ‘leafy vegetables’, and the median chronic exposure levels in Table 6. In the version published on 26 May 2015, amendments were made to the abstract, summary, introduction, exposure assessment, risk characterisation, uncertainty analysis, conclusions, recommendations and appendices in order to correct an error in the original occurrence data and to include more recent occurrence data. Further details are available on page 11. The previous versions of the scientific opinion have been removed from the website, but are available on request as are versions showing all the changes made.
  • Question number: EFSA-Q-2015-00107
  • On request from: European Commission


The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) received a request from the European Commission for a scientific opinion on perchlorate in food, in particular fruits and vegetables. Perchlorate is a contaminant released into the environment from both natural and anthropogenic sources. The use of natural fertilisers and perchlorate contaminated irrigation water may lead to substantial concentrations in leafy vegetables. Water disinfection with chlorinated substances that potentially degrade to perchlorate could be another potential source of contamination. EFSA received analytical results for 11 675 samples submitted by eight Member States, mainly for fruits, vegetables, and fruit and vegetable products. The EFSA Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain (CONTAM Panel) performed estimates of both chronic and ‘short-term’ exposure considering the available dataset, and data from the literature on the levels of perchlorate in fruit juices, alcoholic beverages, milk, infant formulae and breast milk. The CONTAM Panel established a tolerable daily intake of 0.3 µg/kg body weight per day, based on the inhibition of thyroid iodine uptake in healthy adults. Amongst the vulnerable subpopulations, potential acute effects of perchlorate have been suggested for fetuses and infants. The CONTAM Panel noted that a single acute exposure to perchlorate at levels found in food and water is unlikely to cause adverse effects on human health, including the more vulnerable groups of the population, and concluded that the establishment of an acute reference dose for perchlorate is not warranted. Overall, the CONTAM Panel concluded that the chronic dietary exposure to perchlorate is of potential concern, in particular for the high consumers in the younger age groups of the population with mild to moderate iodine deficiency. Furthermore, it is possible that exposure to perchlorate is of concern for infants breast-fed by iodine-deficient mothers.