Environ Sci Technol. 2013 Apr 16 ;47(8):3918-25. Epub 2013 Apr 2. PMID: 23506043

Abstract Title: 

Occurrence of and dietary exposure to parabens in foodstuffs from the United States.


Parabens are esters of p-hydroxybenzoic acid and are widely used as preservatives in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, foodstuffs, including beverages. Information on the occurrence of parabens in foodstuffs and dietary exposure of humans to these chemicals is not available. In this study, food samples (n = 267) collected from Albany, New York, United States, were grouped into eight categories, namely, beverages, dairy products, fats and oils, fish and shellfish, grains, meat, fruits, and vegetables, and analyzed for five parabens by high-performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. The majority (>90%) of food samples contained measurable concentrations of parabens, and the total concentrations (Σparabens; sum of five parabens) ranged from below the limit of quantitation to 409 ng/g fresh weight (mean: 9.67 ng/g; median: 0.92 ng/g). Methyl-, ethyl-, and propyl-parabens were the predominant compounds, accounting for ∼90% of the total concentrations. Butyl- and benzyl-parabens were less frequently detected. There were no significant differences in paraben concentrations among the eight food categories, including the canned foods. On the basis of the concentrations measured and per capita daily ingestion rates of foods, we estimated the daily intake (EDI; ng/kg of body weight (bw)/day)) of parabens through food ingestion. The EDI values of total parabens (calculated from the mean concentrations measured and the mean daily ingestion rates of food items) were 940, 879, 470, 273, and 307 ng/kg bw/day for infants, toddlers, children, teenagers, and adults, respectively. To our knowledge, this is the first study to report the occurrence of parabens in foodstuffs.