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  • Author or Editor: W. H. Holzapfel x
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According to widespread public opinion, environmental contaminants and food additives are major chemical hazards in food. In contrast, scientific evidence shows that levels of environmental contaminants, such as heavy metals or residues of pesticides, have greatly decreased in the last three decades and are much below the tolerable limits; food additives are strictly regulated and their proper use justifies no food safety concerns. The concept that a “de minimis” value or a Threshold of Toxicological Concern (TTC) can be identified for any chemical is gaining ground in food toxicology. The popular belief that compounds of natural origin are intrinsically safer than synthetic ones is not supported by scientific evidence. - Nutrition oriented cancer research in the past was preoccupied with the idea that food contained man-made carcinogenic substances. Their detection and elimination was thought to reduce and perhaps avoid the risk of cancer. A paradigmatic change has occurred: from the hunt for carcinogenic chemicals in food, research has moved to the study of food constituents preventing cancer and to their mechanism of action. The occurrence of health-promoting food constituents forms the basis of the present interest in “functional foods”. However, criminal actions leading to hazardous contamination of food do occur, the Spanish oil catastrophe of 1981 being an extreme example of this. Continued vigilance will be required to protect consumers from unsafe products.

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Acta Alimentaria
Authors:
A. Halász
,
A. Salgó
,
Zs. Cserhalmi
,
J. Farkas
,
J. Beczner
,
W.H. Holzapfel
, and
P. Raspor
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