Chemical contamination refers to a situation where chemicals found in cases where they are not supposed to be or are present in high concentrations when compared to the expected amount they are expected to be present (Schrenk 6). The contaminants may occur as either organic or inorganic compounds present in products that people use on a daily basis. Examples of the products include food commodities detergents, resins, disinfectants, plastics, biocides, pesticides, pharmaceuticals and the effects of incineration (Schrenk 6). The focus of the analysis is on chemical contamination of food commodities in regards to how they occur and the effects that they impose on the health of people. The chemical contamination of food is a serious issue especially since the contamination occurs from various sources.
They mostly occur due to the utilization of agrochemicals that include pesticide residues, pollution from environmental sources such as soil, air and water, veterinary treatments, movement associated with the materials used in the packaging of food, cross-contamination during the processing of food, adulterants and the utilization of food additives which are unapproved, and the availability of natural toxins (Frenich, Antonia Garrido et.al 159). Pesticide residues are associated with modern agriculture in regards to the use of insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides which are used to improve the production of crops in addition to controlling infections, weeds, and pests. It is perceived that the registration of new forms of pesticides tends to be strict in regards to the assessment of toxicity and the effect that they have on the environment in addition to putting up limits when it comes to commodities which are being processed. The contamination of food takes places in regards to the difference in regulatory measures among countries such that what is perceived to be an adequate measure of a chemical in a food may be more in another country and hence increasing the possibility of contamination when the products are taken to a country that uses less amount of the chemical. Also, the pesticides may be misused during their application and when they are stored or being transported (Frenich, Antonia Garrido et.al 159).
The residues regarding veterinary treatment are also main sources of food contamination on how they are handled. The drugs are regulated to prevent in regards to the foods that are obtained from animals (Croubels & Daeseleire 148). Examples of these drugs include coccidiostats, antibiotics, corticosteroids, and sedatives. When animals are given the veterinary treatments, the medication remains in the form of residues present in the body tissues. It is perceived that the kidneys and liver tend to be the most vulnerable body organs to store the residues because of their physiological functions. Some antibiotics such as penicillin tend to bring about allergic reactions in people whose immune systems are quite sensitive and hence justifying the regulation of the veterinary treatment in animals. The contamination from veterinary treatment has been largely associated with endocrine problems among people (Croubels & Daeseleire 148).
Another source of chemical contamination is during the processing of foods (Pankaj et.al 6). Some of the processes that the contamination may occur include during grilling, fermentations, heating, roasting and baking. The originators of the chemicals may also be naturally present in the structure of food; with a good example being reducing sugars. Cross-contamination may also take place during food processing whereby allergens may fuse with the non-allergen foods. The combination of food additives and natural components of food may also result in contamination (Pankaj et.al 6).
The movement of certain chemicals may also result in chemical contamination of food (Kher et.al 74). The movement takes place when the packaging materials come into contact with food substances. Examples of packaging materials that may result in the movement include plastics that contain phthalates, inks that contain either 2-isopropylthioxanthone or 4-methylbenzophenone and chemicals from the gaskets made from plastics which are used in the sealing of lids made from metal or glass (Kher et.al 74).
In regards to chemical contaminants from the environment, the chemicals may occur either naturally or artificially in water, air, and soil (Rose & Fernandez 124). The chemicals may integrate and accumulate in a food chain. The chemicals risk the health of individuals when they are present in large amounts especially in the disruption of the endocrine system due to the chemical contamination of food. They also result in chronic and carcinogenic impacts. Examples of chemical contaminants that enter the food chain include polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, DDTs, pharmaceutical products, retardants with bromine in addition to dioxins (Rose & Fernandez 124).
Toxins also result in food contamination. They are described as substances that occur naturally and emanate from a variety of organisms (Frenich, Antonia Garrido et.al 159). In food, the main forms of toxins include the biotoxins present in water and the mycotoxins. A good example of a plant toxin is the pyrrolizidine alkaloids which is present in eggs, milk, and honey. It is perceived that despite the elimination of the bacterial contamination through heat, some of the toxins stay as contaminants in the foods. The mycotoxins are mostly present in food products such as milk, cereals, baby foods, coffee, nuts, and wine. It is perceived that despite the presence of a variety of the mycotoxins, only a few are regulated (Frenich, Antonia Garrido et.al 159).
The adulteration of food may occur by accident when additives which have not yet been approved are included in the processing of food concerning errors in the formulation (Mastovska n.p.). The wrong formulation results in the mislabeling of food products. The adulteration of food tends to be a major concern when it is carried out intentionally because of economic factors such that food which is of low-value is sold and when shielding the fact that food is spoilt. It is mostly used to mislead consumers and increases a high risk of negatively affecting the health of the consumers. Mastovska, in the article, Modern Analysis of Chemical Contaminants in Food states, The most notorious example from recent years is the addition of melamine to whey and other protein concentrates on increasing their apparent protein content analyzed as total nitrogen, (Mastovska n.p.). Some adulterations such as supplementing hazelnut with virgin oil results in allergic reactions among consumers with sensitive immune systems (Mastovska n.p.).
As stated earlier, the focus of the analysis is on chemical contamination of food commodities in regards to how they occur and the effects that they impose on the health of people. From an analytical perspective, it is quite evident that the chemical contamination of food is an issue of concern due to its various sources. The highlighted sources include pesticide residues, veterinary treatment residues, the processing of foods, food adulteration, natural toxins, environmental sources such as soil, air and water, movement of materials during packaging, and cross-contamination. Also, food contamination results in endocrine, carcinogenic and chronic issues. It is, therefore, inevitable for the regulation of the chemical substances to ensure that the health of the individuals is not put at risk.
Croubels, S., and E. Daeseleire. "Veterinary Drug Residues In Foods". Chemical Contaminants and Residues in Food, 2012, pp. 148-182. Elsevier, doi:10.1533/9780857095794.2.148.
Frenich, Antonia Garrido et al. "Comprehensive Analysis Of Toxics (Pesticides, Veterinary Drugs And Mycotoxins) In Food By UHPLC-MS". Trac Trends In Analytical Chemistry, vol 63, 2014, pp. 158-169. Elsevier BV, doi:10.1016/j.trac.2014.06.020.
Kher, Swaroop V., et al. "Consumer perceptions of risks of chemical and microbiological contaminants associated with food chains: a crossnational study." International Journal of Consumer Studies 37.1 (2013): 73-83.
Mastovska, Katerina. "Modern Analysis of Chemical Contaminants In Food". Food Safety Magazine, 2013, http://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/magazine-archive1/februarymarch-2013/modern-analysis-of-chemical-contaminants-in-food/.
Pankaj, Shashi Kishor, et al. "Applications of cold plasma technology in food packaging." Trends in Food Science & Technology 35.1 (2014): 5-17.
Rose, M., and A. Fernandes. "Emerging Environmental Organic Contaminants In Foods". Chemical Contaminants and Residues In Food, 2012, pp. 124-147. Elsevier, doi:10.1533/9780857095794.2.124.
Schrenk, Dieter. Chemical Contaminants and Residues in Food. 1st ed., Oxford, Woodhead Publishing, 2012,.
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