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Metals on the Menu and other Food for Thought

Jointly Sponsored Webinar with the Metals Specialty Section (MSS)

Thursday, February 24, 2022 | 12:00 PM (EDT)


With ongoing challenges of connecting in person, we have taken initiative to offer more virtual content. After polling FS3 membership, metal contaminants in food were the topic of most interest. We thus partnered with the Metals SS to develop this highly relevant and timely content. This webinar will begin by providing an overview of typical exposures in different age groups and dietary components of most concern. We will then discuss experimental health outcomes with dietary challenges and in a transgenerational model. The webinar will conclude with a live panel discussion.

Title: Dietary Exposures to Lead and Cadmium
Speaker(s): Judith Spungen, Dietitian and Nutritionis, US FDAt and Alexandra Gavelek, Senior Analyst, US FDA


Abstract: The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition(CFSAN) uses a systematic, evidence-based approach to evaluate and reduce potential risks to public health from the presence of contaminants, including the toxic elements lead and cadmium, in the products FDA regulates. CFSAN’s Closer to Zero action plan focuses on reducing exposures to toxic elements from foods consumed by infants and young children. As part of CFSAN’s effort to reduce dietary exposures to toxic elements, CFSAN estimated dietary exposures to lead from young children (1–6 y), older children (7–17 y), females of childbearing age (16–49 y), and adults (18 + y). CFSAN also estimated dietary exposures to cadmium for young children. The lead and cadmium exposures were estimated based on concentration data from FDA’s Total Diet Study (TDS) from 2014-2016 and on food consumption data from What We Eat In America (WWEIA), the food survey portion of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Study (NHANES), from 2009-2014. Estimated mean exposures varied based on the population and on substitution scenarios for values below the limit of detection (non-detects = 0; non-detects = limit of detection; or a hybrid approach). Estimated lead exposures for young children declined slightly since 2004–08, but cadmium exposures did not decline. Key sources of lead and cadmium exposure were not necessarily the foods/food groups with the highest concentrations; in most cases, key sources of exposure were the most highly consumed foods. Fruits and grains were the major sources of lead exposure for young children. Grains and mixtures (e.g., hamburgers, pizza, lasagna, soups) were the major sources of lead exposure for older populations. Grains, mixtures, and vegetables were major contributors to cadmium exposures for young children. The data on lead and cadmium exposures, and on key food contributors to exposures, are informing CFSAN’s Closer to Zero action plan and other efforts to mitigate exposures to these toxic elements.

Title: Cadmium and High-Fat Diet Disrupt Renal, Cardiac and Hepatic Essential Metals
Speaker(s): Dr. Jamie Lynn Young, Postdoctoral Associate, University of Louisville


Abstract: Exposure to the environmental toxicant cadmium (Cd) contributes to the development of obesity-associated diseases. Obesity is a risk factor for a spectrum of unhealthy conditions including systemic metabolic dyshomeostasis. In the present study, the effects of whole-life exposure to environmentally-relevant concentrations of Cd on systemic essential metal distribution in adult mice fed a high-fat diet (HFD) were examined. For these studies, male and female mice were exposed to Cd-containing drinking water for >2 weeks before breeding. Pregnant mice and dams with offspring were exposed to Cd-containing drinking water. After weaning, offspring were continuously exposed to the same Cd concentration as their parents, and divided into HFD and normal (low) fat diet (LFD) groups. At 10 and 24 weeks, mice were sacrificed and blood, liver, kidney and heart harvested for metal analyses. There were significant concentration dependent increases in Cd levels in offspring with kidney > liver > heart. Sex significantly affected Cd levels in kidney and liver, with female animals accumulating more metal than males. Mice fed the HFD showed > 2-fold increase in Cd levels in the three organs compared to similarly treated LFD mice. Cadmium significantly affected essential metals levels in blood, kidney and liver. Additionally, HFD affected essential metal levels in these three organs. These findings suggest that Cd interacts with HFD to affect essential metal homeostasis, a phenomenon that may contribute to the underlying mechanism responsible for the development of obesity-associated pathologies.

Title: Lineage- and Sex-Dependent Behavioral and Biochemical Transgenerational Consequences of Developmental Exposure to Lead, Prenatal Stress, and Combined Lead and Prenatal Stress in Mice
Speaker(s): Dr. Deborah Cory-Slechta, Faculty, University of Rochester


Abstract: Lead (Pb) exposure and prenatal stress (PS) during development are co-occurring risk factors with shared biological substrates. PS has been associated with transgenerational passage of altered behavioral phenotypes, whereas the transgenerational behavioral or biochemical consequences of Pb exposure, and modification of any such effects by PS, is unknown. The present study sought to determine whether Pb, PS, or combined Pb and PS exposures produced adverse transgenerational consequences on brain and behavior. Maternal Pb and PS exposures were carried out in F0 mice. Outside breeders were used at each subsequent breeding, producing four F1-F2 lineages: [F1 female-F2 female (FF), FM (male), MF, and MM]. F3 offspring were generated from each of these lineages and examined for outcomes previously found to be altered by Pb, PS, or combined Pb and PS in F1 offspring: behavioral performance [fixed-interval (FI) schedule of food reward, locomotor activity, and anxiety-like behavior], dopamine function [striatal expression of tyrosine hydroxylase (Th)], glucocorticoid receptor (GR) and plasma corticosterone, as well as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and total percent DNA methylation of Th and Bdnf genes in the frontal cortex and hippocampus. Maternal F0 Pb exposure produced runting in F3 offspring. Considered across lineages, F3 females exhibited Pb-related alterations in behavior, striatal BDNF levels, frontal cortical Th total percentage DNA methylation levels and serum corticosterone levels, whereas F3 males showed Pb- and PS-related alterations in behavior and total percent DNA methylation of hippocampal Bdnf. However, numerous lineage-specific effects were observed, most of greater magnitude than those observed across lineages, with outcomes differing by F3 sex. These findings support the possibility that exposures of previous generations to Pb or PS may influence the brain and behavior of future generations. Observed changes were sex-dependent, with F3 females showing multiple changes through Pb-exposed lineages. Lineage effects may occur through maternal responses to pregnancy, altered maternal behavior, epigenetic modifications, or a combination of mechanisms, but they have significant public health ramifications regardless of mechanism.


Updates to the Cramer et al. Decision Tree and the Threshold of Toxicological Concern: The Expanded Decision Tree and Its Use in Safety Assessments

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Speaker: Szabina Stice, PhD, Senior Toxicologist, Division of Science and Technology, Office of Food Additive Safety, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, US Food and Drug Administration

Webinar recording.


From Protein Toxins to Applied Toxicological Testing Virtual Workshop

Wednesday and Thursday, October 21–22, 2020

Presentation Downloads


Food-Relevant Chemicals in ToxCast and Potential Integration of High-Throughput Toxicity Testing in Assessing Chemical Safety Webinar

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Microbiome: The Missing Piece in the Diet and Health Puzzle
Speaker: Tiffany Weir, Assistant Professor, Colorado State University


Food Safety-Applicability of In Silico/In Vitro Test Methodologies for Food Ingredients

Thursday, August 18, 2016

In Silico/In Vitro Test Methods for Genetic Toxicology Assessment of Food Ingredients: Benefits and Challenges
Speaker: Marilyn J. Aardema, Marilyn Aardema Consulting, LLC

Use of In Vitro Metabolism Assays to Substantiate the Safety Substantiate the Safety of Novel Steviol Glycosides
Speaker: Alex Eapen, Scientific & Regulatory Affairs Cargill

Potential Applicability and Challenges of Using In Vitro and In Silico Methodologies in Food Ingredients Safety Assessment
Speaker: Suzanne Fitzpatrick, US Food and Drug Administration

Webinar recording.


Food-Relevant Chemicals in ToxCast and Potential Integration of High-Throughput Toxicity Testing in Assessing Chemical Safety Webinar

Thursday, July 28, 2016


Identification of a Comprehensive Inventory of Food-Relevant Chemicals and their Effects in the ToxCast High-Throughput Screening Program
Speaker: Agnes Karmaus, Integrated Laboratory Systems, Inc.

Curation of Food-Related ToxCast Chemicals Database Using Exposure Groupings to Identify Current Relevance
Speaker: Lori Fix, ILSI North America Member Scientist

Assessing Bioactivity-Exposure Profiles of Fruit and Vegetable Juices
Speaker: Barbara Wetmore, US EPA

Webinar recording.