Impact of food consumption habits on the pesticide dietary intake: comparison between a French vegetarian and the general population

Food Addit Contam Part A Chem Anal Control Expo Risk Assess. 2009 Oct;26(10):1372-88. doi: 10.1080/02652030903031171.


This study aims to compare the pesticide residue dietary intake of the French general population and the vegetarian population, separated into five specific diets: omnivorous (OMN), lacto-vegetarian (LV), ovo-lacto-vegetarian (OLV), pesco-lacto-vegetarian (PLV) and vegan (VG). Theoretical Maximum Daily Intakes (TMDIs) based on Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs) were calculated as a percentage of the Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI). Among the 421 pesticides studied, only 48 had TMDI above ADI for at least one population subgroup. An excessive exposure was noticed for 44, 43, 42, 41 and 30 pesticides in the OLV, VG, OMN, LV and PLV groups, respectively, versus 29 in the general population. Meat and egg products consumption was responsible for higher intakes of organochlorine pesticides in the general population than in the vegetarian population (TMDI = 348% versus 146-183% ADI for aldrin). However, as the limited consumption of animal-origin commodities was largely offset by a higher fruit, vegetable and cereal intake in the vegetarian diets, vegetarians appear to be preferentially exposed to pesticides, for which fruit, vegetables and cereals are the main contributors, such as tri-allate, chlorpyrifos-methyl and diazinon. This study illustrates that consumption habits have a real impact on pesticide exposure in terms of intake levels, number and type of pesticides, representing a potential risk of dietary exposure. Except for organochlorine compounds, the vegetarian population may be more exposed to pesticide residues than the general population due to specific dietary habits. Thus, this population should be considered for risk assessment of pesticide residues.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Diet, Vegetarian*
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Food Contamination / analysis
  • France
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pesticide Residues / analysis*
  • Pesticides / chemistry*
  • Pesticides / toxicity


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Pesticide Residues
  • Pesticides