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Contamination of vegetables with heavy metals across the globe: hampering food security goal

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Abstract

Food Security is a multifaceted aspect covering nutrition, availability, sufficiency, accessibility and safety. Millennium Development Goals as framed by United Nations focused to attain food security for all. The biggest hindrance in attaining food security was less productivity due to lack of enough resources. In order to increase the availability and produce sufficient food, malpractices like growing food on contaminated land or using untreated wastewater for irrigation came into play. Such practices have led to the transfer of heavy metals, pathogens and other harmful toxins to food crops. Various studies across the world have documented high concentration of heavy metals in vegetable crops. Root tubers and succulent stems are hyperaccumulators of heavy metals and thus tend to pose health hazard to the consuming population. In many instances the content of toxic metals in vegetables is much beyond permissible limits. Hazard quotient assessment in various studies has shown that consumption of these vegetables can be toxic to both adults and children. So, the question arises are we really attaining the global food security? There is a need to find a solution to produce sufficient, safe and nutritious food for the civilization so as to meet the goal of “zero hunger”.

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Correspondence to Avinash Kaur Nagpal.

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Sharma, A., Nagpal, A.K. Contamination of vegetables with heavy metals across the globe: hampering food security goal. J Food Sci Technol 57, 391–403 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13197-019-04053-5

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Keywords

  • Food security
  • Heavy metals
  • Vegetables
  • Hyperaccumulators