Want to keep learning?

This content is taken from the Queen's University Belfast's online course, Tackling Global Food Safety. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 1 second Like most things we encounter in our lives, food is made up from a mixture of different chemicals. The majority of these chemicals occur naturally in our diets and provide us with the nutrients we need for life, including proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, minerals, and vitamins.

Skip to 0 minutes and 21 seconds However, not all naturally occurring chemicals are good for us, and some can be toxic in the short term or after chronic exposure.

Skip to 0 minutes and 30 seconds Generally speaking, we can consider food contaminants to be chemicals that have not been added to the food deliberately, or which should not have been added to food.

Skip to 0 minutes and 42 seconds In this topic, we will look at a number of different food contaminants, including mycotoxins and heterocyclic amines. Different types of food contaminants may be introduced into food during production, storage, for example mycotoxins; manufacture, processing, preparation, for example, heterocyclic amines; treatment, packaging, transport, or marketing. Of course, bacteria are important potential contaminants that can be introduced to food during many of these stages from production to marketing. But in this topic, we are focusing on chemical contaminants rather than bacteria. We will focus on mycotoxins and toxins produced during food processing.

Food contaminants

At the end of the food chain, human well-being and health is the ultimate concern of food security so the various components and processes involved in making our food should not compromise its safety.

Various biological and chemical risks are known to exist within our food, and the acute and chronic health effects of exposure to natural (e.g. mycotoxins), environmental (e.g. metals) and man-made toxins (e.g. dioxins) and drugs (e.g. veterinary therapeutics) that may occur or persist in the food chain are well documented.

In this section, we will explore issues surrounding some examples of food chemical contaminants – the types and sources of these contaminants, how we measure them, and their potential impact on human health will be examined. We will also look at some of the ongoing research being conducted to help maintain healthy and sustainable food supplies.

Share this video:

This video is from the free online course:

Tackling Global Food Safety

Queen's University Belfast