Food can become contaminated with substances not intentionally added (contaminants). They can occur in plants through, for example, absorption from the (contaminated) soil or deposition from the air. Contaminants can also find their way in food during the production process and preparation of food. Contamination due to contaminants cannot always be prevented, but, in most cases, is of no public health concern. That is because the concentrations, on average, are low over time.
RIVM has calculated that the intake of the majority of 28 contaminants investigated is within an acceptable range when people eat and drink according to the Wheel of Five. This is not the case for three contaminants: acrylamide, arsenic and lead. That does not mean that it is certain that negative health effects will occur. It is just that they cannot be ruled out. Due to uncertainties in the calculation, no conclusion could be drawn for cadmium, aflatoxin B1 and the sum of aflatoxins B1, B2, G1 and G2.
There are no recommendations possible within the Wheel of Five by which the intake of contaminants is sufficiently reduced and people can continue to eat a healthy diet. Therefore, it remains important to keep the concentrations of contaminants in food as low as possible. The current policy on contaminants in food focuses on this. The general advice to eat a varied diet also remains important for the lowest possible intake of contaminants.
The focus of the Wheel of Five is a healthy diet. This RIVM study examined whether the Wheel of Five also provides a safe diet regarding the intake of 28 contaminants. It also investigated whether recommendations for food choices are necessary and possible to improve food safety.