Irish Study on Fluoride Consumption
On April 30, 2018 the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) published a report of its Scientific Committee entitled Total Diet Study 2014-2016: Assessment of Dietary Exposure to Fluoride in Adults & Children in Ireland. The report concludes, “there is currently no scientific basis for concerns about the safety of children and adults in Ireland from exposure to fluoride from foods and beverages.”
This study tested over 200 of the most commonly-consumed foods and beverages in Ireland to estimate “typical” fluoride consumption from these sources. (Non-dietary sources such as fluoride toothpaste were not included.) Subsets of the population were identified to account for differences in eating and drinking habits between, for example, adults and children. Once the estimates of intake levels were developed, they were examined to determine safety.
In the Irish diet, young children get most of their fluoride intake from tap water. Among adults, black tea – one of two sources of higher concentrations of fluoride in Ireland (the other being seafood) – constitutes the main source of fluoride intake. As children reach an age when they begin to drink tea, it becomes a bigger contributing factor in their overall intake.
For both children and adults, the study found no threat to health. “This study reaffirms the FSAI’s and its scientific committee’s view that exposure to fluoride from the diet for all population groups in Ireland is not of concern,” said FSAI chief executive Dr Pamela Byrne.
Clearly dietary habits in Ireland are different than those in the United States. (We are, after all, a coffee drinking nation – Dunkin Donuts, McCafé, Starbucks…) So, what does this study tell us? It is yet another affirmation of the safety of the time-tested public health practice of adjusting the level of fluoride in public water supplies to the optimal level to prevent tooth decay. And for those of you who are tea drinkers – you can have confidence that your choice of beverage is quite all right too.