Food toxicity assessment of selected canned foods in Nigeria

  • Martins O. AineruaEmail author
  • Nosakhare Erhunmwunse
  • Isioma Tongo
  • Lawrence Ezemonye
Original Article


Food toxicity assessment was made for frequently consumed canned foods in Nigeria in order to estimate potential human health risks associated with their consumption. Levels of heavy metals (Pb, Cd, As, Fe, Mn and Zn), Nitrate and Nitrite, pH and salt were assessed in randomly purchased samples from groceries stores to represent what is readily available on the market. Nitrates and nitrites were assessed using a Perkin-Elmer spectrophotometer while heavy metal levels were determined using Atomic absorption spectrophotometer. Human health risk was estimated using standard indices; estimated daily intake (EDI), target hazard quotient (THQ), hazard index (HI) and dietary exposure (DE). Results showed varying concentrations of nitrates, nitrites, heavy metals, in all the canned food categories but the level of salt and pH seemed constant. Nitrate, Fe and Cd in all the canned food categories exceeded recommended limit set by EU. Health risk estimations showed EDI values for Cd in all the canned food categories above the tolerable daily intake, while DE for Fe in canned sweet corn, Fe, Zn and Pb in canned beans/peas had values above recommended limits. THQ values for all the canned foods were above 1 in the canned beans/peas while HI was above 1 in the canned fish category. The study revealed the potential for Cd toxicity and risk of non-carcinogenic health effects from canned beans/peas consumption. Constant monitoring of canned foods is therefore imperative considering the growing demand for canned products due to changing lifestyle.


Food toxicity Metals Nitrate Nitrite Canned food Health risk 



I want to acknowledge the team members of the Laboratory for Ecotoxicology and Environmental Forensics for their role in this research.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

This work has been extensively discussed in parts and whole at the 7th international toxicology symposium in Africa held in South Africa in August 2015. Martins Oshioriamhe Ainerua received a travel Grant from the University of Benin to the 7th international toxicology symposium in South Africa.


  1. 1.
    Voegborlo RB, El-Methnani AM, Abedin MZ (1999) Mercury, cadmium and lead in canned fish. Food Chem 67:341–345CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Massadeh AM, Allah A, Al-Massaedh T, Kharibeh S (2018) Determination of selected elements in canned food sold in Jordan markets. Environ Sci Pollut Res 25:3501–3509CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (2006) Meeting and World Health Organization. Safety evaluation of certain food additives (No. 56). World Health OrganizationGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    AOAC (1984) Official methods of analysis of the Association of Official Analytical Chemists, 14th edn. AOAC, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Radojevic M, Bashkin VN (1999) Organic matter. In: Practical environmental analysis. The Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, UK, pp 325–329 Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    US EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency) (1997) Exposure factors handbook. EPA/600/P-95/002F. Washington, DC. Update to Exposure Factors Handbook EPA/600/8-89/043 - May 1989.
  7. 7.
    US EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency) (2007) Integrated risk information system-database. United States Environmental Protection Agency, PhiladelphiaGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    JECFA (2005) Consultations and workshops. Dietary exposure assessment of chemicals in food. Report of a Joint FAO/WHO Consultation Annapolis. MD, USA, 2–6 May 2005, pp 1–88Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    FDA (2007) Approximate pH of foods and food products. US Food and Drug Administration, Rockville. Accessed 20 June 2014
  10. 10.
    Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) (2004) Mercury in fish—Further information. Accessed 20 June 2014
  11. 11.
    European Commission (2008) Commission Regulation 2008/629/EC of 2 July 2008, amending Regulation (EC) 1881/2006 setting maximum levels for certain contaminants in foodstuffs. L88/29–38. Accessed 29 Mar 2007Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    European Commission (2006) Commission Regulation (EC) 1881/(2006) of 20 December (2006) setting maximum levels for certain contaminants in foodstuffs. Off J Eur Union L 364:5–24Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Tuzen M, Soylak M (2007) Determination of trace metals in canned fish marketed in Turkey. Food Chem 101:1378–1382CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    JECFA (1983) Evaluation of certain food additives and contaminants, 27th report. WHO, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) (2004) 2000 total diet study of 12 elements aluminium, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, magnesium, mercury, nickel, selenium tin and zinc. UK Food Standards Agency, FSA Food Survey Information Sheet 48/04. Food survey information sheet 48/04. Accessed May 2014
  16. 16.
    JECFA (1982) Evaluation of certain food additives and contaminants. Twenty-six report of joint FAO/WHO Expert committee on food additives WHO Technical report Series 683Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) (2013) About Codex. Codex Alimentarius. Accessed Nov 2014
  18. 18.
    JECFA (1993) Evaluation of certain food additives and contaminants. Forty-first report of the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives. World Health Organization, Technical Report Series 837. WHO, Geneva, SwitzerlandGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    JECFA (2002) Safety evaluation of certain food additives and contaminants / prepared by the fifty-seventh meeting of the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (‎JECFA)‎. World Health Organization, pp 451–664.
  20. 20.
    Nordic Council of Ministers (1995) Risk evaluation of essential trace elements—essential versus toxic levels of intake. Report of a Nordic project group. Oskarsson. A. Nordic Council of Ministers, CopenhagenGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    World Health Organization (WHO) (1981) Environmental health criteria 17: Manganese. WHO, Geneva, pp 1–110Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    US Food and Drug Administration (1993) Everything added to food in the United States. C.K. Smoley, Boca Raton (c/o CRC press, Inc.)Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2010) Sodium intake among adults-United States, 2005–2006. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 59:746Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Zarei M, Mollaie A, Eskandari MH, Pakfetrat S, Shekarforoush S (2010) Histamine and heavy metals content canned tuna fish. Glob Vet 5:259–263Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Iwuoha GN, Uporo VB, Onwuachu UI (2013) Variation of heavy metals in canned geisha and Founty mackerel fish brands obtained from Choba Market Port Harcourt, Nigeria. J Appl Sci Environ Manag 17:577–580Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Dallatu YA, Abechi SE, Abba H, Mohammed US, Ona EC (2013) Level of heavy metals in fresh and canned foods consumed in North Central Nigeria. Sch J Agric Sci 3:210–213Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Commission of the European communities (2001) Commission regulation (EC) No. 221/2002 of 6 February 2002 amending regulation (EC) No. 466/2002 setting maximum levels for certain contaminants in foodstuffs. Off J Eur Commun L 37/4. Accessed June 2014
  28. 28.
    Bordajandi LR, Gómez G, Abad E, Rivera J, Fernández-Bastón MDM, Blasco J, González MJ (2004) Survey of persistent organochlorine contaminants (PCBs, PCDD/Fs, and PAHs), heavy metals (Cu, Cd, Zn, Pb, and Hg), and arsenic in food samples from Huelva (Spain): levels and health implications. J Agric Food Chem 52:992–1001CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Thomson B (2004) Nitrates and nitrites dietary exposure and risk assessment: prepared as part of a New Zealand Food Safety Authority contract for scientific services. Institute of Environmental Science & Research Limited, WellingtonGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Solecki R, Davies L, Dellarco V, Dewhurst I, van Raaij M, Tritscher A (2005) Guidance on setting of acute reference dose (ARfD) for pesticides. Food Chem Toxicol 43:1569–1593CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Speijers GJA, van den Brandt PA (2002) Nitrite (and potential formation of N-nitroso compounds), vol 50. WHO Food Additive Series, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Korfali SI, Hamdan WA (2013) Essentail and toxic metals in lebanese marketed canned food: impact of metal cans. J Food Res 2:19–30CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Urieta I, Jalón M, Eguileor I (1996) Food surveillance in the Basque Country (Spain). II. Estimation of the dietary intake of organochlorine pesticides, heavy metals, arsenic, aflatoxin M1, iron, zinc through the total diet study, 1990/91. Food Addit Contam 13:29–52CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Korean Society of Toxicology 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martins O. Ainerua
    • 1
    Email author
  • Nosakhare Erhunmwunse
    • 1
  • Isioma Tongo
    • 1
  • Lawrence Ezemonye
    • 1
  1. 1.Ecotoxicology and Environmental Forensic Laboratory, Department of Animal and Environmental Biology, Faculty of Life SciencesUniversity of Benin, PMB 1154Benin CityNigeria

Personalised recommendations