A critical review of the data related to the safety of quercetin and lack of evidence of in vivo toxicity, including lack of genotoxic/carcinogenic properties

Food Chem Toxicol. 2007 Nov;45(11):2179-205. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2007.05.015. Epub 2007 Jun 7.


Quercetin is a naturally-occurring flavonol (a member of the flavonoid family of compounds) that has a long history of consumption as part of the normal human diet. Because a number of biological properties of quercetin may be beneficial to human health, interest in the addition of this flavonol to various traditional food products has been increasing. Prior to the use of quercetin in food applications that would increase intake beyond that from naturally-occurring levels of the flavonol in the typical Western diet, its safety needs to be established or confirmed. This review provides a critical examination of the scientific literature associated with the safety of quercetin. Results of numerous genotoxicity and mutagenicity, short- and long-term animal, and human studies are reviewed in the context of quercetin exposure in vivo. To reconcile results of in vitro studies, which consistently demonstrated quercetin-related mutagenicity to the absence of carcinogenicity in vivo, the mechanisms that lead to the apparent in vitro mutagenicity, and those that ensure absence of quercetin toxicity in vivo are discussed. The weight of the available evidence supports the safety of quercetin for addition to food.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinogenicity Tests*
  • Food Additives / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Mutagenicity Tests*
  • Quercetin / adverse effects*


  • Food Additives
  • Quercetin