Cadmium and Other Metals: Extended Analyses


In the project Extended Analyses of Cereal Products, Potatoes and Root Vegetables, the Swedish Food Agency analyses cadmium and other elements such as lead, nickel, arsenic, copper and iron.

Cadmium is an undesirable substance that unfortunately occurs naturally in food. As far as possible, both children and adults should limit their intake of cadmium. We therefore need to learn more about which foods contain cadmium and how levels change over time.

Cadmium is a heavy metal and is toxic to humans. Recent studies shows that, in addition to cause damage to the kidneys and the skeleton, it also increases the risk of cancer.

Most of the cadmium we ingest comes from cereal products, potatoes, root vegetables, certain vegetables and rice. The levels of cadmium in these foods are generally not high, but since they are so-called staple foods they are consumed in large quantities.

Project to expand sampling

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) estimates that parts of the European population (including Swedes) currently have a higher intake of cadmium than is healthy. Pregnant women, infants, children, people with iron deficiency, diabetics and those with kidney disorders are particularly sensitive.

In the project, one hundred of samples are analysed each year in order to better track the development of cadmium levels in various foodstuffs. The samples are also analysed for other metals/substances, both undesirable and beneficial; for example, lead, arsenic, nickel, copper and iron.

How are the analytical results used?

The results are used in various contexts to:

  • monitor trends in cadmium levels in our traditional foods, such as wheat and potatoes, to assess whether levels are falling or rising;

  • develop knowledge about foods that are relatively new to the Swedish market, such as quinoa, chia seeds, algae/seaweed-based foods, etc.;

  • improve the estimates of the intake of cadmium;

  • influence debate on EU limit values for cadmium; and

  • engage in dialogue with the relevant industries to promote cooperation in reducing cadmium levels in food.

Please contact us for more information.

Krisitina Granelli
Head of Chemistry Department


Reviewed 2022-06-07