Elemental composition of Jamaican foods 1: A survey of five food crop categories

The concentrations of 27 elements in Jamaican food categories consisting of fruit, legumes, leafy and root vegetables and other root crops are reported. The main analytical techniques used were neutron activation analysis and flame and graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrophotometry. The results are compared, where possible, with values from Denmark, the United Kingdom, the United States and Nigeria, and with some regulatory limits. Over 75% of the results for antimony, arsenic, barium, cerium, thorium and uranium were below the respective sample detection limits but even among these, some of the maximum values observed indicate that further examination may be useful for those foods grown in the regions of highest uptake and consumed in large amounts. The other elements reported are bromine, cadmium, calcium, caesium, cerium, chromium, copper, europium, hafnium, iron, lanthanum, lead, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, rubidium, scandium, samarium, sodium, strontium, thorium, uranium, and zinc. Many of these elements occur at concentration levels above those reported from the other countries but it seems unlikely that most of these will contribute significantly to public health risk. However, at this stage cadmium clearly appears to be the element of greatest concern in the Jamaican food chain. The observed range of cadmium concentrations suggests that factors such as land selection, coupled perhaps where necessary, with suitably modified agricultural practices, is a feasible way to reduce the cadmium content of certain local foods.

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