PAHs in dietary supplements
Thursday 15 December 2005
Food Survey Information Sheet 86/05
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) were analysed in a range of retail dietary supplements.
The purposes of the survey were to obtain an indication of consumer exposure to PAHs as a result of taking dietary supplements and to generate data for future negotiations on possible EC regulatory limits for benzo(a)pyrene (BaP) and other PAHs.
The results suggest that the concern for human health is low.
A total of 210 dietary supplements, covering a wide range of categories, were tested for 15 PAHs.
Higher concentrations of PAHs were generally found in plant-derived products such as ginseng and ginkgo, bee products and marine-derived products (other than fish oils). The highest levels of benzo(a)pyrene (BaP) and benz(a)anthracene (BaA) were found in samples of spirulina and red clover leaf.
Exposure estimates based on the manufacturers' recommended dosages indicate a low concern for health and we do not recommend that consumers change their current preferences on the basis of this survey. Nevertheless, as exposure to genotoxic carcinogens should be as low as reasonably practicable, the companies whose products contained the highest PAH levels were advised to investigate ways to reduce them.