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Introduction: Control of contaminants and drug residues in food

An introduction to the control of contaminants and drug residues in food.

Food safety is a scientific discipline whose aim is to keep humans safe from any disease coming from food. One of the key priorities of the European Union (EU) is to ensure the health of humans, animals, and plants at every step of the food production processes, the so called from farm to fork pathway. This goal is pursued by preventing food contamination and promoting food hygiene, animal health and welfare.

EU’s food policy is based on solid science and thorough risk assessment. The EU institutions are guided by the work of scientific committees and by independent scientific advice from agencies such as the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

The EFSA was established in 2002 and is based in Parma (IT). The scientific advice is provided by EFSA’s Scientific Panels and Scientific Committee composed of members selected by an open selection procedure. The main goal of the authority is to monitor and analyze scientific data and information on biological hazards, chemical contaminants, food consumption, and emerging risks. The EFSA also produces scientific output addressed to both the scientific community and to the consumers.

The basic principles for the EU’s food safety policy are defined in the General Food Law adopted in 2002 (Reg No 178/2002) and deals with several food safety related issues covering the whole food chain from animal feed and food production to processing, storage, transport, import and export, and finally retail sales. A key element of the EU food law is to establish the principles for risk analysis that regulate scientific and technical assessment implemented in order to ensure the proper protection of humans, animals, and environment.

EU inspectors also visit farms and businesses associated with the production of food. National authorities carry out checks at the EU’s borders to ensure that food and animals coming from outside the EU meet the European standards.

EU inspectors control including:

  • Additives and flavourings
  • Safe limits for food contact materials
  • Limiting feed additives, plant and veterinary product residues
  • Food hygiene
  • Reducing food contamination
  • High quality and traditional foods
  • Animal health and reducing animal disease
  • The spread of disease from animals to humans
  • Animal welfare.

For further reading you can explore articles provided in the ‘See Also’ section.

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Farm to Fork: Sustainable Food Production in a Changing Environment

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