Monitoring programme on nitrates in vegetables and vegetable-based baby foods marketed in the region of Valencia, Spain: levels and estimated daily intake.
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This study was carried out to determine the current levels of nitrates in vegetables and vegetable-based baby foods (a total of 1150 samples) marketed in the Region of Valencia, Spain, over the period 2000-2008, and to estimate the toxicological risk associated with their intake. Average (median) levels of nitrate in lettuce, iceberg-type lettuce and spinach (1156, 798 and 1410 mg/kg w/w, respectively) were lower than the maximum limits established by European Union legislation. Thirteen fresh spinach samples exceeded the regulatory limits. Median nitrate values in other vegetables for which a maximum limit has not been fixed by the European Commission were 196, 203, 1597, 96, 4474 and 2572 mg/kg w/w (for potato, carrot, chard, artichoke, rucola and lamb's lettuce, respectively). The estimated nitrate daily intakes through vegetables consumption for adult, extreme consumers and children were found to be about 29%, 79.8% and 15.1%, respectively, of the acceptable daily intake (3.7 mg/kg). The levels (median = 60.4 mg/kg w/w) found in vegetable-based baby foods were, in all cases, lower the maximum level proposed by European Union legislation. The estimated nitrate daily intake through baby foods for infants between 0-1 and 1-2 years of age were 13% and 18%, respectively, of the acceptable daily intake.