Chemical Hazards in Food


By Richard Lawley, Laurie Curtis & Judy Davis

Published November 2012

Publisher: Food Safety Info

e-book (PDF format)
193 pages

ISBN: 978-0-9572993-1-3

The Food Safety Watch guide to Chemical Hazards in Food provides the key facts about the most important chemical contaminants that must be controlled for food to be safe. Written in a structured yet accessible style, the twenty-nine chapters each deal with a single hazard, making it easy to find the information required. Each chapter also contains links to authoritative on-line information resources for anyone needing to know more.

This e-book is now available for immediate download at the introductory price of £12.00 (GBP).

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More about this book

A food safety hazard is anything present in food with the potential to harm the consumer, either by causing illness or injury. Food safety hazards can be biological, chemical, or a physical object. Good food safety practice must be science-based and a thorough understanding of hazards is the first essential step in their control.

The presence of chemical hazards in food is usually less immediately apparent than that of bacteria and other biological hazards. Acute toxicity caused by food-borne chemical contaminants is now very rare in developed countries. Of much more concern is exposure to low levels of toxic chemicals in the diet over long periods. In some cases this can lead to chronic illness and there is also the risk that some contaminants may be carcinogenic.

A huge range of potentially toxic chemicals may contaminate food, but some of the main classes of contaminant important in food safety are:

  • Agricultural chemicals, pesticides etc.
  • Veterinary drugs
  • Natural biological toxins (Fungal toxins, Plant toxins & Seafood toxins)
  • Environmental contaminants (e.g. dioxins and heavy metals)
  • Contaminants produced during processing (e.g. acrylamide)
  • Contaminants from packaging and food contact materials (e.g. plasticisers)
  • Cleaning and sanitising chemicals
  • Adulterants (e.g. illegal food dyes)

It is not practical to cover pesticides or adulterants (with the exception of melamine) in any detail here because of the sheer number of compounds that could find their way into food. Chemical Hazards in Food focuses on contaminants that are known to be food safety hazards, and which have received some attention from food safety researchers and regulators to establish the level of risk they carry.



Part 1: Biological toxins

Fungal toxins

Plant toxins
Cyanogenic glycosides

Seafood toxins
Domoic acid
Okadaic acid toxins
Scombrotoxin (histamine)

Part 2: Non-biological chemical contaminants

Processing contaminants
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH)

Packaging contaminants
Bisphenol A

Environmental contaminants
Dioxins and PCBs
Heavy metals

Veterinary residues

View a sample chapter of Chemical Hazards in Food.

The Authors

Richard Lawley and Laurie Curtis have extensive experience in food safety and food microbiology and Judy Davis has a biochemistry background. All three have experience in research and industry and are also the authors of The Food Safety Hazard Guidebook, published by the Royal Society of Chemistry and now in its second edition.

This e-book is now available for immediate download at the introductory price of £12.00 (GBP).

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