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Bad practice in the dairy industry;
Nanotechnology contamination;
Toxicity of food additives “ Sudan red dye; and
Bioterrorism.
Food trends are:
Increasing global demand for food as populations increase and become more
urban;
Globalisation of the food supply and travel;
Pressure to intensify food production industries in developing countries (try-
ing to meet the needs of export markets);
Further spreading of food-borne diseases and increased risk issues with
regards to: additives; allergenicity, antibiotic resistance; authenticity and
new risks of genetic modification and nanotechnology contamination;
Socio-economic changes:
Disposable income;
Increased mobility of people;
Increased exotic trips leading to exotic tastes;
Increased gap between rich and poor countries;
Decreased household sizes; and
More adventurous eating, ˜ethnic foods™, in industrialised countries.
There is a centralisation of the processing of human and animal foods, and of
a more concentrated distribution of food into the hands of a few global oper-
ators like Unilever, Nestl©, Wal-Mart, Carrefour, Cargill, Tesco and Metro. In
the UK £1 in every £7 spent in UK shops is spent in Tesco.

New food safety threats
Recent concern: allergenicity
Dairy firms face crisis over EU safety checks:
The dairy industry in the UK in crisis after EC concerns about the methods
used to detect harmful levels of antibiotics in milk;
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EU will carry out a nationwide inspection of the dairy sector;
EU acted after a random inspection of a small cheese maker, Bowland Dairy
Products, found ˜serious breaches™ of EU food safety rules;
The inspection found evidence that the firm had collected out-of-date milk
that had tested positive for antibiotics to manufacture cheese;
Antibiotics degrade in milk during storage and pose no problems in produc-
tion of cheese and yogurt; and
However, the breakdown products can be allergenic.


Recent concern: antibiotic residues in honey
European Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) has reported con-
taminated honeys from: Argentina, Australia, Bulgaria, China, Germany,
Hungary, India, Italy, Mexico, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey, Ukraine,
Vietnam.
The antibiotics in honey, which come from the treatment of bee diseases and
antibiotic residues in honey, is an international problem.
Issues for the regulators:
No MRLs available for antibiotic residues in honey;
New antibiotics are also being reported, e.g. tylosin;
20 to 30% of honey on the market is contaminated with antibiotics; and
Problems for the regulators:
Assess safety and toxicity;
Licence or not? and
Provide information to the consumer to make an informed choice.


Recent concern: carcinogenic acrylamide in food
Acrylamide forms in certain foods, particularly plant-based foods that are
rich in carbohydrates and low in protein, e.g. potatoes, during processing or
cooking at high temperatures;
It is known to cause cancer in animals and was first confirmed to be found in
food by the Swedish National Food Authority in 2002; and
It is formed when a natural amino acid called asparagine reacts with certain
naturally occurring sugars such as glucose. This only happens when the tem-
perature during cooking is high. This varies with properties of the product
and the method of cooking.
How to minimise exposure? An example of advice from regulators “ Health
Canada™s advice:
It is not possible to determine recommended maximum exposure levels or to
set daily consumption limits for specific foods containing acrylamide;
Research indicates that french fries (chips) and potato chips (crisps) contain
the highest levels of acrylamide;
Chapter 17 “ Health and safety of stakeholders and customers 421



Have fried or deep-fried foods and snacks such as french fries and potato
chips less often. Occasional consumption of these products is not likely to be
a health concern;
Choose a balanced diet containing a variety of foods that are low in trans fat
and saturated fat, and rich in high-fibre grains, fruits and vegetables;
Industry and regulators are responding as a precaution by changing produc-
tion techniques to lower the levels. However, acrylamide is present in many
foods. Dealing with a few foods has no effect “ everything must be changed;
Food cooked at home and in restaurants is a big challenge, and a significant
source of acrylamide exposure. Changing cooking habits can lower acry-
lamide intake; and
Research to fully understand:
The nature of the low dose hazard to humans; and
The impact of any proposed interventions. Are there any unintended con-
sequences to public health?


Recent concern: common and emerging pathogens
The spread of food-borne diseases is being affected by a number of factors and
threats which include:
The intensification of food-animal production in many countries;
Prion-caused transmissible spongiform encephalopathy;
Recognition that non-symptomatic food animals can harbour organisms
pathogenic to humans;
Pathogens of importance becoming resistant to standard antibiotic therapies;
Infectious diseases visibly crossing borders; and
Ever-increasing opportunity for chemical contamination of foods (industrial
accidents, e.g. Chernobyl), dioxins in chickens, chemicals from packaging, etc.
The food-borne illnesses in the US have an estimated annual cost of $6.9 billion:
Bird flu (see the case study in Chapter 8 on business interruptions);
Campylobacter (Campylobacter jejuni): the sources are the intestinal tract of
animals and humans and non-chlorinated water. It contaminates raw chicken
at an incidence rate from 30 to 100% and is now the No. 1 cause of bacterial
food-borne illness. Human infective dose is as little as 400“500 cells;
Salmonella spp.: there are approximately 2000 species and all are patho-
genic. Again it is found in the intestinal tract of animals and humans. An
infectious dose in humans can be as low as 10“15 cells for S. typhimurium
and S. enteritidis. It is the No. 2 cause of bacterial food-borne illness:
Salmonella contamination in chocolates.
Listeria monocytogenes;
E. coli 0157 (Escherichia coli 0157:H7) ESBL: E. coli has also taken at least 57
lives in the UK since 2004: and
Most E. coli are harmless;
0157:H7 rare form of E. coli;
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Source: intestinal tract of animals and humans; and
Low infective dose.
BSE, dioxin, pesticides, antibiotics, etc.
An example of how modern processes can increase the risk levels is the fruits
and vegetables sector:

The products are eaten raw and known to be vehicles for transmitting infec-
tious diseases; and
Many pathogenic bacteria, parasites and viruses have been isolated from raw
fruits and vegetables, fruit juices, etc.

Examples of recent impacts of these risks include the:

E. coli contamination in vegetables from Yemen; Saudi Arabia stopped all
imports including animal products; and
E. coli contamination of pre-packaged vegetable salads in the US.


Recent concern: contamination from packaging
Packaging and food contact materials, i.e. ITX contamination in foods:

ITX, a colour stabiliser used for printing offset colours on food packaging, hit
the headlines in connection with contaminated baby milk products in
November 2005;
The milk, which was packed in drink cartons, contained traces of ITX and
was phased out as a precautionary measure. The packaging producer also
reacted, stopping the production of packaging with ITX containing ink;
The European Food Safety Authority has stated that ˜on the basis of the very
limited data available, the presence of ITX in food is undesirable but is not
likely to present a health risk at the levels reported™;
ITX is a photoiniator in UV-cured printing inks used on some food packag-
ing. During routine analysis of liquid infant foods, low levels of ITX were
detected, and the European Commission informed; and
Food manufacturers and packaging manufacturers have worked together to
substitute the packaging.


Recent concern: food authenticity
A related issue to that of security is the authenticity of food products as food
counterfeiting and alteration is now very big business. Labelling regulations
and consumers are demanding assurance of the origin of products because of
safety, religious, health, taste or moral preference.
There should be increased moves to identify food products, i.e. what meat
species go into mechanically recovered meat and methods to distinguish
between processed and recovered meats. There are a range of methods that can
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be deployed including DNA testing techniques (PCR, ELISA, Proteomics and
metabolomics).
Risk management methods for fingerprinting and profiling food include:

New technology arising from the metabolomics sector;
Fingerprinting: empirical approach for characterising food products;
Identification of marker compounds;
Methods: NMR, FT-IR, LC-MS, GC-MS, NIR; and
Food verification methods: QA, brand protection, security.

Examples of testing include:

Current methods for detecting the presence of gelatine in foods and beverages
include estimation of hydroxyproline (Hyp), an amino acid found in substan-
tial quantities in collagen. However, some plant and algae proteins also con-
tain Hyp, making interpretation of results at trace levels difficult; and
Recent work at RHUL (Patel et al., 2004 and 2005; Neubert et al., 2004) has
demonstrated that mass spectrometry (MS) can be used to detect characteris-
tic biomarker peptides derived from gelatine present in animal feeds.


Recent concern: food security
Threats to the US food supply include terrorists, extortionists, unhappy employ-
ees, protesters and hoaxes which cause economic damage, say the US Food and
Drug Administration (FDA) and the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS)
(Sorrells, E. Security Management, August 2006).
To protect against these sorts of risk, new food-protection and biosensor
technologies are needed to protect the food supply chain. Biosensors that are
capable of identifying a range of biological material, including chemical com-
pounds, proteins, metabolites, nucleic acids and living organisms should be
developed and deployed.
The public would seem to back these moves as an example is that a recent
study by the University of Minnesota finds that protecting the US food supply
requires a greater federal commitment, according to public opinion. The study
sampled 4200 residents nationally and over 50% of respondents think terror-
ists will strike within the United States within the coming four years (Meyers,
M. Minneapolis Star Tribune, 22 March 2006).


Recent concern: GM crop production
Various international bodies like OECD, the FAO/WHO, and the EU have
designed strategies for the safety evaluation of genetically modified foods or
food ingredients. Public acceptance is low, especially in the EU even though 81
GM crops have been approved worldwide and there is ˜new™ production and
supply chain issues with regards to food and feeds of potato, tomato, papaya,
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sugar beet; melons and rice. There have been numerous contamination scares
and cross-border trade disputes as a result of these products.


Recent concern: nanotechnology
Nanomaterials are already being integrated into hundreds of products, includ-
ing: computers; food wrappings; sports equipment, stain-resistant fabrics and
an array of cosmetics and sunscreens. Preliminary studies suggest that most of
these products do not pose significant risks in their bulk form or embedded in
the kinds of products that so far use them. But the same cannot be said of the
particles themselves, which can pose health risks to workers and possibly food
producers and processors and they may cause health or environmental prob-
lems as discarded products break down in landfills.
There are concerns that tiny particles from the products might cause respi-
ratory, cardiac and immune problems and that the implications have not been
properly assessed. The more general risks are explored in Chapter 11. Some of
the possible human health hazards of nanotech that have been identified or
suspected, from a food health and safety perspective, include:
Researchers at the New Jersey Institute of Technology found that nanoparti-
cles of aluminium oxide stunt the growth of roots on several crops, including
soybeans and corn, mainstays of the US food supply system;
Some carbon nanospheres and nanotubes behave differently than conven-
tional ultrafine particles, causing fatal inflammation in the lungs of rodents,
organ damage in fish and death in ecologically important aquatic organisms
and soil-dwelling bacteria;
Their ability, identified in animal studies, to clog airways, trigger intense
immune-system reactions and ˜toast™ living cells; and
And a California team working with laboratory-grown cells showed that car-
bon nanotubes specifically activate ˜cell suicide genes™ (extracts from ˜Toxic
warnings for nano industry™, Risks, issue number 256, 13 May 2006).


Recent concern: toxicity of food additives
An example is the Sudan red dye scare of February 2005. There were conflict-
ing governmental stances on the issue at the time, as the contrasting comments
of the UK and Canadian governments below suggest:
˜At the levels present the risk is likely to be very small but it is sensible to
avoid eating any food known to be contaminated. There is no risk of immedi-
ate ill health™ (UK FSA website, 25 February 2005); and
˜Sudan I and IV, red dyes, are not permitted as food colours in Canada. There

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