Contaminants in organic and conventional foodstuffs in France

Food Addit Contam. 2002 Jun;19(6):524-32. doi: 10.1080/02652030210123878.


The aim was to compare the levels of contamination in organic and conventional raw materials. To this end, the level of contamination by heavy metals (lead, cadmium, arsenic, mercury), nitrates and nitrites, and some mycotoxins were monitored. Fifteen products were tested in their organic and conventional forms, including meat, milk, eggs, vegetables and cereals. The median levels of contamination were calculated and compared with the recommended or regulated maximum levels. The maximum levels were exceeded for lead in organic carrots and buckwheat, and in conventional wheat; for cadmium, in both organic and conventional buckwheat; for nitrates, in organic spinach; and for patulin in organic apples. Moreover, contamination of both conventional and organic wheat by deoxynivalenol was observed with a higher level in organic products. However, the health risk for consumers might be real only for the contamination by mycotoxins as the contaminated foods (apples, wheat) are the main contributors to total exposure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Crops, Agricultural / chemistry*
  • Edible Grain / chemistry
  • Food Contamination / analysis*
  • Food, Organic / analysis*
  • France
  • Fruit / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Metals, Heavy / analysis*
  • Mycotoxins / analysis*
  • Nitrates / analysis
  • Nitrites / analysis
  • Vegetables / chemistry


  • Metals, Heavy
  • Mycotoxins
  • Nitrates
  • Nitrites