Survey of Nitrate and Nitrite Contents of Vegetables Grown in Korea

Survey of nitrate and nitrite contents of vegetables grown in Korea.

Food Addit Contam. 2003 Jul;20(7):621-8.
Chung SY, Kim JS, Kim M, Hong MK, Lee JO, Kim CM, Song IS.
Korea Food and Drug Administration, Department of Food Evaluation, Seoul, Republic of Korea.

A scientific basis for the evaluation of the risk to public health arising from excessive dietary intake of nitrate in Korea is provided. The nitrate () and nitrite () contents of various vegetables (Chinese cabbage, radish, lettuce, spinach, soybean sprouts, onion, pumpkin, green onion, cucumber, potato, carrot, garlic, green pepper, cabbage and Allium tuberosum Roth known as Crown daisy) are reported. Six hundred samples of 15 vegetables cultivated during different seasons were analysed for nitrate and nitrite by ion chromatography and ultraviolet spectrophotometry, respectively. No significant variance in nitrate levels was found for most vegetables cultivated during the summer and winter harvests. The mean nitrates level was higher in A. tuberosum Roth (5150 mg kg(-1)) and spinach (4259 mg kg(-1)), intermediate in radish (1878 mg kg(-1)) and Chinese cabbage (1740 mg kg(-1)), and lower in onion (23 mg kg(-1)),soybean sprouts(56 mg kg(-1)) and green pepper (76 mg kg(-1)) compared with those in other vegetables. The average nitrite contents in various vegetables were about 0.6 mg kg(-1), and the values were not significantly different among most vegetables. It was observed that nitrate contents in vegetables varied depending on the type of vegetables and were similar to those in vegetables grown in other countries. From the results of our studies and other information from foreign sources, it can be concluded that it is not necessary to establish limits of nitrates contents of vegetables cultivated in Korea due to the co-presence of beneficial elements such as ascorbic acid and alpha-tocopherol which are known to inhibit the formation of nitrosamine.