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Food Contaminants

Background Information

Foodborne illness: its origins and how to avoid it

Safety is a priority at every stage of the food chain from farm to fork, and the foods available to European consumers are usually perfectly safe to eat. However, they may occasionally become contaminated to a level which spoils the food or causes illness if eaten. The home is an area where improved consumer awareness of food safety issues can reap rewards in terms of risk reduction. How does food become contaminated by microbes? And what can the consum ...

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Science Briefs

EFSA’s opinion on bisphenol A: no health risk to consumers

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Consumer survey of UK kitchens reveals poor food safety perceptions and behaviour in older people

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Insights into the presence of Listeria monocytogenes in certain ready-to-eat foods

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FoodRisC: Analysing traditional and social media coverage 04/01/2012
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) 22/10/2008
FoodRisC: The role of social media during a food crisis 04/10/2012
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Naturally Occurring Endocrine Active Substances Q&As

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Acrylamide Q&As

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Food Today

Food safety controls in the European Union

Over the last few decades a succession of high profile food scares has shaken consumer confidence in the safety of food products. In the EU these food scares were the major driving force in the establishment of food safety legislation and infrastructure in order to restore confidence in the food supply chain, ‘from farm to fork’.

New system for assessing chemical safety

We are exposed to thousands of chemical substances in our daily lives.  Some of them are beneficial to health (for instance, the main components of foods) but other substances (which may be present in food or in the environment) can induce adverse health effects. The likelihood of adverse health effects is related to the magnitude, frequency and duration of exposure to this chemical.

Contaminants in fish: weighing up the risks

With growing consumer awareness of diet and health issues, there is increasing popularity within Europe for fish as a healthy eating option. Fish is a valuable source of high quality protein, minerals and vitamins. In addition, oily fish are rich in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), the health benefits of which are widely recognised. Recently, public confidence has been dented by a report that highlighted the risks associated with dietary exposure to environmental contaminants, such as mercury and dioxins, which are known to accumulate in fish. However, all available data and the interpretation of the competent authorities indicate that the level of contaminants in fish is far below the critical danger levels.

Containing Microbiological Cross-Contamination

Cross-contamination is the transfer of pathogenic (disease-causing) microbes from contaminated foods (usually raw) to other foods, either directly or indirectly. It is a major cause of food poisoning, but is easy to prevent.

Campylobacter Jejuni - A Lesser Known Bacteria

Campylobacter jejuni is one of the world's major food poisoning bacteria. British scientists have recently determined its entire genetic make up, which should lead to an understanding of the mechanism of Campylobacter virulence as well as strategies to control it.

Smart Bug Detection

New DNA-based methods of detecting and identifying microbial pathogens offer benefits to both manufacturers and consumers. The microbiological safety of foods continues to be of great concern to everyone in the food chain, from farm to fork. Producers, manufacturers and everyone preparing food take all possible precautions to prevent illness through consumption of their food. Food safety management systems that have proved to give good results include the Good Manufacturing Practices and Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point systems. An important aspect of such preventative, safety assurance systems is to establish whether potential pathogens may be present in a raw material, or in the environment of a food production line.
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Other articles

Q&As on process contaminants in vegetable oils and foods (2- and 3-MCPD and their esters, and Glycidyl Esters)

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The European Food Information Council (EUFIC) is a non-profit organisation which communicates science-based information on nutrition and health, food safety and quality, to help consumers to be better informed when choosing a well-balanced, safe and healthful diet.

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This site was last updated 24/08/2016
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