Toxic Metals in Cereals in Cape Verde: Risk Assessment Evaluation

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Apr 6;18(7):3833. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18073833.


Consumption of cereals and cereal-based products represents 47% of the total food energy intake in Cape Verde. However, cereals also contribute to dietary exposure to metals that may pose a risk. Strengthening food security and providing nutritional information is a high-priority challenge for the Cape Verde government. In this study, toxic metal content (Cr, Ni, Sr, Al, Cd, and Pb) is determined in 126 samples of cereals and derivatives (rice, corn, wheat, corn flour, wheat flour, corn gofio) consumed in Cape Verde. Wheat flour samples stand out, with the highest Sr (1.60 mg/kg), Ni (0.25 mg/kg) and Cr (0.13 mg/kg) levels. While the consumption of 100 g/day of wheat would contribute to 13.2% of the tolerable daily intake (TDI) of Ni, a consumption of 100 g/day of wheat flour would contribute to 8.18% of the tolerable weekly intake (TWI) of Cd. Results show relevant Al levels (1.17-13.4 mg/kg), with the highest level observed in corn gofio. The mean Pb average content in cereals is 0.03-0.08 mg/kg, with the highest level observed in corn gofio. Al and Pb levels are lower in cereals without husks. Without being a health risk, the consumption of 100 g/day of wheat contributes to 17.5% of the European benchmark doses lower confidence limit (BMDL) of Pb for nephrotoxic effects; the consumption of 100 g/day of corn gofio provides an intake of 1.34 mg Al/day (13.7% of the TWI) and 8 µg Pb/day (20% of the BMDL for nephrotoxic effects). A strategy to minimize the dietary exposure of the Cape Verdean population to toxic metals from cereals should consider the continuous monitoring of imported cereals on arrival in Cape Verde, the assessment of the population's total diet exposure to toxic metals and educational campaigns.

Keywords: Cape Verde; cereals; dietary intake; metals; risk assessment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cabo Verde
  • Edible Grain* / chemistry
  • Flour
  • Food Contamination / analysis
  • Metals, Heavy* / analysis
  • Risk Assessment
  • Triticum


  • Metals, Heavy