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The Total Diet Study (TDS) is an ongoing FDA program that monitors levels of about contaminants and nutrients in the average U.S. diet;.
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From Email. Levels of contaminants normally found in foods are well below the regulatory levels; for that reason, analytical methods used for the TDS are much more sensitive than those required for regulatory monitoring. TDS analyses incorporate numerous controls and checks to ensure the quality of the results. Test materials, fortified with elements and other target compounds, are analyzed to demonstrate precision and accuracy of the analyses. Replicate analyses of TDS samples are conducted to confirm that original results are reproducible. Samples with findings outside the historical ranges or those not in compliance with regulations are reanalyzed for confirmation of the initial laboratory result.

If the finding is confirmed, the laboratory notifies CFSAN, which recommends an appropriate follow-up action. Although this number may seem quite high—and may, in fact, have increased with time—this represents the increased sensitivity of analytical methods rather than an increase in the incidence of contamination. Most contaminants are present at very low levels; the values determined in the TDS generally fall within a narrow historical range.

Radionuclides, when present, also are found at low concentrations, which is consistent with the near disappearance of contamination of this type since the early s. Most often this is a result of a remedial action taken many years before. Lead provides one of the best examples.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration

During the s, a number of regulatory actions were taken by various government agencies to reduce dietary and environmental exposures to lead. Manufacturers of baby foods also took the initiative to change from cans to glass jars in the early s. The U. Environmental Protection Agency EPA phased out leaded gas and lead pipes from the mids through the mids.

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Lead specifications for food additives were reviewed, with an emphasis on those consumed in the greatest quantities. The consequences of these actions can be seen in the TDS results. Average lead levels in baby foods decreased from 0. For example, levels of contaminants or nutrients are occasionally found to be outside the normal range, or residues of pesticides that are not registered for use in the U. In one such incident in the late s, unusually high levels of iodine were found in a number of TDS foods.

Based on these findings, dietary intakes of iodine were estimated to be four to five times the Recommended Daily Allowance, with dairy products accounting for most of the intake.

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The increase in levels of iodine in TDS foods was brought to the attention of industry and the use of iodophors was dramatically reduced. In another incident, polychlorinated biphenyls PCBs were found in a ready-to-eat breakfast cereal in In , a residue of oxyfluorfen, a herbicide used to control weeds, was detected in a sample of salmon.


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In the late s, elevated levels of lead were found in a baby food chicken and vegetables. The source was traced to carrots grown in fields previously used as apple orchards that had been treated with lead arsenate. In a similar situation, elevated levels of arsenic were found in a sample of peanut butter; the source was found to be peanuts grown in a field that had been treated with an arsenic-containing defoliant. On a national level, results of the TDS are widely used by other government agencies, academic and research institutions, industry and consumer groups, and individuals with an interest in food safety and nutrition.

Results of the study have always been available to the public, either through the Freedom of Information Act or publications in scientific journals.

Evolution of approaches in conducting total diet studies.

As a result, the data are even more widely used and FDA gets frequent inquiries about the program. In addition to its important role in monitoring the safety of foods domestically, the TDS data are becoming increasingly important in setting international limits for contaminants in food. Expansion of international trade in food has increased the need for international standards. Planning and executing a TDS requires expertise in many different areas, from assessing food consumption patterns to managing the logistics of sample collection and preparation to analytical chemistry.

As trade in food becomes more global and food safety becomes a higher priority, all countries also must be concerned about the safety of their own food supply and must be able to meet international standards.

FDA’s Total Diet Study: Monitoring U.S. Food Supply Safety - Food Safety Magazine

WHO, recognizing the need to assist developing countries in these endeavors, has cohosted two Total Diet Study workshops since The goal is to share expertise and establish an international network by bringing together countries with TDS expertise and countries wishing to develop their own studies. FDA is an avid supporter of this effort and was cohost of the first workshop, which was held in July at the Kansas City District Laboratory.

The TDS has served us well domestically for more than 40 years, providing assurance that our foods are safe and nutritious. The program has evolved to reflect changes in food consumption patterns, as well as concerns about contaminants. And now, with the increased importance of international trade and food safety standards, FDA and its TDS have even greater roles to play, both at home and abroad. Please visit the website at wwwcfsan. World Health Organization.

Geneva: WHO. Gunderson, E. JAOAC 7 6 , pp.

Which Diets Actually Work?

Pennington, J. JAOAC 70 5 , pp. The WHO recognizes Total Diet Studies as cost-effective methods of providing general assurance that the food supply is safe from certain chemical hazards and to develop priorities for risk management and interventions. Even more important than the impact on trade, chemicals in the food chain can cause serious health risks such as cancer, immune suppression, kidney and liver dysfunctions, hormonal imbalance, learning disabilities, dementia etc WHO One benefit of a TDS is that it targets the sampling of foods that represent the typical diet of a population.