FDA Releases Updated Total Diet Study Results (and Advises Consumers to Keep Eating)

July 13, 2014

By Ricardo Carvajal

FDA released data for its Total Diet Study (TDS) covering the period from 2006 to 2011.  Under the TDS, FDA collects data on levels of pesticide residues, industrial chemicals, toxins, and nutrients present in foods to monitor changes in the levels of those substances and help the agency evaluate potential risks to public health.  Because the TDS is intended to monitor levels of those substances in foods as consumed, FDA collects samples for the study by shopping at grocery stores and restaurants around the U.S.

FDA cautions that “[i]ndividuals who intend to use either the data summaries or individual analytical results are urged to review all the information” on the study design and data collection “to ensure a good understanding of the study and the data” – perhaps an effort to discourage armchair analysts from casually perusing the data and jumping to erroneous conclusions.  FDA’s bottom line advice: consumers should “eat a varied, well-balanced diet, consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.”  Nonetheless, the updated data could reveal trends of interest.  One such result is pointed out by FDA in its news release: “the agency found statistically significant declines in sodium contents of several processed foods.”