Dietary exposure of children and teenagers to benzoates, sulphites, butylhydroxyanisol (BHA) and butylhydroxytoluen (BHT) in Beirut (Lebanon)

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The acceptable daily intake (ADI) for a considered chemical is by definition the amount of that substance which can be ingested every day during the life time without appreciable health risk. The theoretical risk of exceeding the ADI for benzoates, sulphites, butylhydroxyanisol (BHA) and butylhydroxytoluen (BHT) has often been examined on the basis of worst case scenario. The aim of this paper is to assess the actual intake of the food additives listed above for a group of the Lebanese population (students aged between 9 and 18 years old) likely to be highly exposed to food additives through the consumption of processed foods. Dietary exposure was obtained by combining food consumption data with food additives levels determined by chemical analysis. Food products available in Lebanon and containing added benzoates, sulphites, BHA and BHT were identified. Overall 420 samples of foods and beverages were analysed. The determination of food additives residue levels was carried out according to the official methods adopted in “Lebanese Institute for agronomic research” (IRAL) on food as consumed. The acceptable daily intake (ADI) could be exceeded for sulphites and BHT by a fraction of the population, in particular within children of 9–13 years old. Among all food additive-containing foods, the highest contributors were: soft drinks to benzoates intake, nuts and canned juices to sulphites intake, bread and biscuits to BHA intake and chewing gum to BHT intake.

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