The US Organic Trade Association (OTA) has stressed that the recent discovery of the chemical perchlorate in samples of milk and lettuce spanned conventional samples as well as organic samples.

In late November, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published initial exploratory data looking at the presence of the chemical perchlorate in the US food and water supply. The FDA reported finding perchlorate in 217 of 232 samples of milk and lettuce in 15 states.

"Perchlorate contamination appears to be a problem across all agriculture, whether conventional or organic methods are employed," said Katherine DiMatteo, executive director of the OTA. "While perchlorate was detected in organic lettuce and milk, there is no reason to believe that this is exclusively an organic concern."

The FDA is currently evaluating the contamination levels and potential health risks associated with consuming foods contaminated with perchlorate, but does not recommend that consumers alter their eating habits at the moment. Currently investigating whether perchlorate is a public health concern, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), is expected to release a report of its findings in January 2005.