Estimated dietary pesticide exposure from plant-based foods using NMF-derived profiles in a large sample of French adults

Eur J Nutr. 2021 Apr;60(3):1475-1488. doi: 10.1007/s00394-020-02344-8. Epub 2020 Jul 30.


Purpose: This study, conducted in participants of the NutriNet-Santé cohort, aims to identify dietary pesticide exposure profiles (derived from Non-negative Matrix Factorization) from conventional and organic foods among a large sample of general population French adults.

Methods: Organic and conventional dietary intakes were assessed using a self-administered semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire. Exposure to 25 commonly used pesticides was evaluated using food contamination data from Chemisches und Veterinäruntersuchungsamt Stuttgart accounting for farming system (organic or conventional). Dietary pesticide exposure profiles were identified using Non-Negative Matrix factorization (NMF), especially adapted for non-negative data with excess zeros. The NMF scores were introduced in a hierarchical clustering process.

Results: Overall, the identified clusters (N = 34,193) seemed to be exposed to the same compounds with gradual intensity. Cluster 1 displayed the lowest energy intake and estimated dietary pesticide exposure, high organic food (OF) consumption (23.3%) and a higher proportion of male participants than other groups. Clusters 2 and 5 presented intermediate energy intake, lower OF consumption and intermediate estimated pesticide exposure. Cluster 3 showed high conventional fruits and vegetable (FV) intake, high estimated pesticide exposure, and fewer smokers. Cluster 4 estimated pesticide exposure varied more across compounds than for other clusters, with highest estimated exposures for acetamiprid, azadirachtin, cypermethrin, pyrethrins, spinosad. OF proportion in the diet was the highest (31.5%).

Conclusion: Estimated dietary pesticide exposures appeared to vary across the clusters and to be related to OF proportion in the diet.

Trial registration: Clinical Trial Registry: NCT03335644.

Keywords: Dietary exposure; Epidemiology; Organic farming; Pesticides.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Diet
  • Energy Intake
  • Food Contamination / analysis
  • Food, Organic
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pesticides* / analysis


  • Pesticides

Associated data