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Summary
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Food contaminants and human health: Summary

As we have seen in this week’s topic, many food contaminants pose risks to public health and can potentially be carcinogenic. These threats to humans extends beyond cancer to include more general aspects of health and growth development.

However, the health implications of dietary contaminants can be reduced or indeed prevented, if interventions and regulations to manage and control feed and food contamination are in place and enforced.

We have shown that the assessment of the risks from chemical contaminants within our food is complicated by challenges to determining how much of these compounds we are being exposed to - we have examined how biomarker approaches can potentially be used to overcome some of these issues.

Additionally, the toxic effects of some contaminants can be seen immediately upon consumption, whilst the impact of others can only be seen following long-term exposure, and may be reliant on other contributing environmental or genetic factors, so ongoing assessments of potential risks must be performed particularly for more at-risk sections of our populations.

Whilst we have discussed examples of natural, man-made and processing contaminants of interest in more detail, we should also recognise that there are many more other food contaminants that need to be considered and monitored for i.e. metals, dioxins and Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs), Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH), pesticides, and veterinary drug residues.

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This article is from the free online course:

Tackling Global Food Safety

Queen's University Belfast