2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 25 Nov 2003 22:40:19 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Federal tests find perchlorate in food
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Federal tests find perchlorate in food
Lettuce: Growers, state officials say the levels do not pose a health
By Douglas E. Beeman and David Danelski
12:29 AM PST on Saturday, November 22, 2003

Tainted food

The USDA test results showed perchlorate in six of 10 samples of Romaine
and leaf lettuce gathered from the lower Colorado River valley, where
about 90 percent of the nation's winter lettuce is grown. The
rocket-fuel chemical has also been found in mustard greens, cow's milk
and melons. Researchers did not find any perchlorate in corn, carrots or

Federal tests released this week provide mounting evidence that a
rocket-fuel chemical is finding its way into winter lettuce irrigated
with tainted Colorado River water.

The tests are the first acknowledgement by the federal government that
perchlorate, a chemical used in NASA rockets, fireworks and military
missiles and ammunition is turning up in the nation's food supply. The
Colorado River contamination is from a former perchlorate manufacturing
plant near Las Vegas.

Canada is worried about the contamination and is preparing to test
lettuce and other crops imported from the rich agricultural region
straddling the California-Arizona border, a Canadian food-safety
official said.

In the United States, health experts said the levels of perchlorate
found in lettuce grown in California and Arizona are so low that they
are unlikely to have any significant effect on human health. In high
doses, perchlorate is known to disrupt the thyroid's ability to produce
hormones necessary for metabolism and fetal development.

Discoveries of perchlorate in food could lead to stricter limits in
drinking water to reduce overall exposure. California is expected to
develop a health standard for perchlorate in drinking water within the
next year. A federal counterpart could be years away.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture released test results this week that
showed measurable levels of perchlorate in six of 10 samples of Romaine
and leaf lettuce gathered last spring from the lower Colorado River

Perchlorate was not found in samples of carrots, corn and onions that
were tested, said Allen Jennings, director of the USDA's Office of Pest
Management Policy. The chemical tends to concentrate in leaves, making
leafy vegetables more susceptible, he said.

"We don't see the accumulation in other crops," Jennings said by
telephone from his office in Washington, D.C. "We take comfort in that."

An earlier study by Texas Tech University found perchlorate in cow's
milk purchased in grocery stores.

Hank Giclas, vice president of strategic planning, science and
technology for the Western Growers Association, said the doses found in
lettuce are small and don't pose a health threat.

"We have confidence in the safety of what we are shipping and continuing
to ship," Giclas said by telephone from Irvine.

Still, he added, "We don't like to have a compound like this in the

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