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Thermal seven things

Chemical hazards in food*


This review gives a broad overview of the types of chemical hazards that can occur in foodstuffs, indicating how they arise and how they are measured and controlled. The examples given are representative of the many types of issues that the food industry has to face on a daily basis.


Further information on individual chemicals can be found in Campden BRI Review 52 – Understanding chemical hazards in support of risk assessment. Also, advice on the risk assessment of raw materials will be published in March 2011 in Campden BRI Guideline 65 – Risk assessment and management of raw materials. Meanwhile, analysis is covered in the Campden BRI Key Topic No. 10 Chemical analysis of foods: an introduction. A summary of chemistry and quality management services available to the food industry can be found on the Campden BRI website (www.campden.co.uk).


*This Scientific Information Bulletin was originally prepared for and published by the International Union of Food Science and Technology (IUFoST). A list of IUFoST Scientific Information Bulletins can be found at: http://iufost.org/iufost-scientific-information-bulletins-sib


Campden BRI has published several short reviews on different practical aspects of interest to the food industry. For a full list of reports available electronically from Campden BRI send an e-mail to auto@campdenbri.co.uk with the subject line: send index


Introduction


The purpose of this review is to give a broad overview of the types of chemical hazards that can occur in foodstuffs, to indicate how they arise and how they are measured and controlled. The examples given are representative of the many types of issues that the food industry has to face on a daily basis. The risks posed by allergens have been omitted, as this is covered by a separate IUFoST Scientific Information Bulletin http://iufost.org/iufost-scientific-information-bulletins-sib


Origin of chemical hazards in foods


It has been said that 99% of all toxins are naturally occurring, and also that all things are toxic at a high enough concentration. Certainly, many food raw materials contain chemicals, which, if consumed in excess, might lead to health problems. Cooking and processing in general can remove or inactivate many chemicals (e.g. protease inhibitors, lectins) that are either directly toxic or inhibit digestion or absorption of nutrients. However, some chemicals have arisen as problems associated with food processing techniques developed in the last 100 years or so, e.g. trans fatty acids resulting from chemical hydrogenation of unsaturated fats, or 3– monochloropropanediol from the chemical hydrolysis of proteins. One recently publicised example of a processderived chemical hazard in food is the formation of acrylamide in baked products. Although this has been occurring for centuries (e.g. in home baking of bread, potatoes and other starch–based foods), it was not discovered until 2002. A further area of concern is the migration of chemicals from packaging materials into foods, which has recently become a large problem for food manufacturers.


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