Environmental Health in Israel | 2014

Chemical Food Contaminants Chemical food contaminants, or “food pollutants”, refers to substances that are unintentionally added to food and whose presence derives from pollution during the process of growing, producing, processing, preparing, handling, packing, transporting, storing or maintaining food. These pollutants can be industrial and/or environmental contaminants (such as heavy metals, dioxins, or PCBs), natural toxins (such as mycotoxins), or toxins that are created during processing (such as acrylamide). This chapter primarily addresses those chemical food contaminants specifically defined as "food pollutants" and additional substances such as food contact materials, antibiotics, and hormones. Exposure to food pollutants is linked to a wide range of acute and chronic negative health effects, including impacts on cognitive development (heavy metals), cancer (mycotoxins and dioxins), and damage to the reproductive system (dioxins). Long-term exposure to food pollutants – even at very low concentrations – can have negative health effects, particularly among sensitive sub- populations (pregnant women, children, and the elderly). Current Regulations Current food pollutant regulations date from 1958 and 1983. Specific standards, regulations, and guidelines have been developed for those foods that are likely to have high concentrations of contaminants. These regulations, including those for mercury content in fish (1979), are due to be updated in 2014. In addition, specific regulations on mycotoxins in food (1996) and specific guidelines for heavy metals, melamine, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and radionuclides in food were updated in 2013. Chapter 6 - 47 - Chemical Food Contaminants

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