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July 5, 1971

Alkylmercury Contamination Of Foods

Author Affiliations

Joint Secretary, Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives Geneva

JAMA. 1971;217(1):81. doi:10.1001/jama.1971.03190010063028

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To the Editor.—  My attention has recently been drawn to an EDITORIAL entitled "Methylmercury Contamination of Foods" by Eyl (215: 287, 1971), in which the writer refers to the "World Health Organization recommended limit of 0.5 ppm" for mercury in foods.At no time has WHO recommended a limit for mercury in foods. At the 1967 Joint FAO/WHO Meeting on Pesticide Residues the Meeting suggested (but not recommended) practical residue limits of 0.02 to 0.05 ppm of mercury in foods (cereals, fruits, and vegetables) according to local conditions. These levels were suggested as levels which might arise following the use of organomercurial fungicides in agriculture.More recently, the 1970 Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives made the following statement concerning mercury as a contaminant:There are no data on which to assign an ADI to mercury: this is urgently required as a guide to levels above which food should