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Food Contaminants

Science Briefs

The European Food Safety Authority recently published the findings from a European Union (EU) survey on the presence of Listeria monocytogenes in certain ready-to-eat foods, i.e. fish (hot smoked, cold smoked or gravad fish),  packaged heat-treated meat products and soft and semi-soft cheeses. Overall, the proportion of samples exceeding the legislative limit for Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat foods was low. However, considering the popularity of these foods and the severe implications that infection with Listeria monocytogenes can have on health, vigilance is required by everyone in the food chain. 
The European Commission recently published the 2011 annual report of the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF). The RASFF plays a key role in ensuring a high level of food safety for consumers.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in collaboration with the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) recently released its latest report on trends and sources of zoonoses in the European Union. This Science Brief focuses on the findings for two disease-causing bacteria, Campylobacter and Salmonella.
Two new studies published in the US this week seek to blow out of the water fears that people who regularly consumer seafood are putting themselves at risk due to methylmercury, PCB and dioxin contamination. Rather, the benefits of regular fish consumption on heart disease risk and neurodevelopment were seen to outweigh the risks.
The Threshold for Toxicological Concern (TTC) is an approach used to assess the risk (if any) posed by chemicals to which humans are exposed at very low levels but when no toxicity data are available. The approach was evaluated at a workshop (Brussels, 8th-10th June 2011) organised by ILSI Europe with the participation of academia, industry, non-governmental organisations and regulators.  The findings are summarised in a paper published in the peer-reviewed journal Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology in February 2013.
Researchers at Stanford University, USA conducted a systematic review of published literature to determine if organically produced foods are safer or healthier than conventionally produced foods. Overall, the published literature does not suggest health benefits from consuming organic rather than conventional foods; nevertheless, it found that consumption of organic produce may reduce exposure to pesticides and consumption of organic pork and chicken may reduce exposure to antibiotic resistant bacteria.
The French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health Safety (ANSES) recently published the findings of a study which considered the risks and benefits associated with seafood consumption and determined the optimum quantity of seafood which should be consumed per week.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in collaboration with the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) recently released the 2010 European Union (EU) Summary Report on antimicrobial resistance in zoonotic and indicator bacteria from humans, animals and food. This article focuses on the findings for two zoonotic bacteria, Campylobacter and Salmonella.
This paper, commissioned by the ILSI Europe Food Allergy Task Force and published in the peer-reviewed journal Food and Chemical Toxicology, discusses advances in the risk management of allergens which are unavoidably present in food products as a result of cross-contact. The latter may arise for a number of reasons, for instance the presence of residues in inaccessible shared equipment and airborne dust. The conclusion is that precautionary labelling based on quantitative action levels (i.e. maximum levels of unintended allergens above which precautionary labelling is deemed necessary) provides optimal protection for allergic consumers. This is the first paper of a three part series.
The risk from the unintentional presence of an allergen in a food product must be assessed before it can be managed effectively. Using probabilistic modelling, the risk can be assessed by combining data on the minimum eliciting doses (MEDs) in the allergic human population with exposure data (consumption and contamination data). This paper, commissioned by the ILSI Europe Food Allergy Task Force and published in the peer-reviewed journal Food and Chemical Toxicology,discusses the strengths and limitations of this approach. It is the second paper in a three-part series.
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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 17/04/2014
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