Long-term dietary exposure to copper in the population in Germany - Results from the BfR MEAL study

Food Chem Toxicol. 2023 Jun:176:113759. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2023.113759. Epub 2023 Apr 6.


The German Total Diet Study (BfR MEAL Study) measured copper in 356 foods. In 105 of these foods copper was determined separately for conventionally and organically pooled samples. Mammalian liver, nuts, oilseeds, cocoa powder and chia seeds contained the highest copper levels. Organically produced foods tended to have higher levels compared to conventionally produced foods. Children's copper exposure was between 0.04 mg/kg body weight per day (mg/kg bw/day) and 0.07 mg/kg bw/day (median). High exposure (95th percentile) ranged between 0.07 mg/kg bw/day and 0.11 mg/kg bw/day. Adult's exposure ranged between 0.02 mg/kg bw/day (median) and 0.04 mg/kg bw/day (95th percentile). Grains and grain-based products were main contributors for all age groups. Copper intake was about 10% higher in a scenario where consumers select the organically produced variants. Children's median and high exposure was above the acceptable daily intake (ADI) of 0.07 mg/kg bw/day set by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). However, according to EFSA's evaluation this is not of concern due to higher requirement related to growth. For adults, frequent consumers of mammalian liver exceeded the ADI in median and 95th percentile. Intake of copper-containing dietary supplements may also lead to exceedance of the ADI in all age groups.

Keywords: Conventional; Copper; Dietary exposure; Germany; Organic; Total diet study.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Child
  • Copper*
  • Diet
  • Dietary Exposure*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Food Safety
  • Humans
  • Mammals


  • Copper