A Canadian Grain Commission study confirms a decrease in cadmium concentration in Canadian durum exports.

Cadmium is a  naturally occurring heavy metal that, because of its presence in soil, can be a food contaminant. 

Dr. Sheryl Tittlemier with the CGC says high cadmium levels are a concern as they can lead to various negative health effects if consumers have large exposures to it. 

For this study, Dr. Tittlemier and her team monitored export shipments of Canadian durum wheat for cadmium concentrations from 1992 to 2020. 

The survey found that cadmium concentrations have consistently declined since the establishment of the durum breeding program in 1991 that prioritized low cadmium accumulation, and the addition of a low cadmium accumulation variety registration requirement in 2004.

Tittlemier says they found a 2-fold decrease in cadmium levels in Canadian durum exports since the 1990's.

"They had decreased by more than half since the mid 2000's. So they dropped from a median of 0.16 parts per million down to 0.07 parts per million, which is a great decrease."

She says the continued drop in cadmium levels shows the commitment of everyone involved in the Canadian grain sector.

"Whether it's the researchers involved in the breeding program, the producers adopting these cultivars. Everybody involved in the Canadian variety registration process, and even our work at the Grain Commission doing the analysis. It shows the commitment of everyone involved in maintaining the safety and the quality of Canadian grain."

The full study, Cadmium concentrations in Canadian durum exports decreased with the adoption of low accumulating cultivars, is available online.