Learn about Toxicology Food Safety in this video.
Read the full transcript »
Carl Winter: Hi! My name is Carl Winter. I am a spokesperson for the Institute of Food Technologists and also a faculty member in Food Toxicology at the University of California, Davis. Today, I am discussing issues of food safety that relate to the presence of potentially dangerous chemical contaminants in foods. One of the most importance principles we deal with is the concept that the dose makes the poison. It's the amount of a chemical, not its presence or absence that determines the potential for harm. This is particularly important when we talk about the presence of very small amounts of chemicals in our food supply since our laboratories are capable of detecting them. The more important question is what risks, if any, do these pose to consumers? Scientists usually rely on the results of long-term laboratory animal studies to determine what might be acceptable levels of human exposure. And fortunately for most of these types of chemical contaminants, we find that our typical human exposure is far lower, in many cases thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousand of times lower than levels that don't even cause effects in laboratory animals. This is now without controversy because science is an evolving form and we may learn tomorrow some new findings of particular chemicals that might cause us to rethink whether we're still experiencing acceptable levels of exposure. This is a very positive thing as we wish to make our decisions based upon the best particular science that we have. Given that our typical exposures to these chemicals in food are low, therefore our risks are very low. Many studies have demonstrated that the health benefits of consuming a balanced diet, a moderate diet, rich in consumption of fruits and vegetables and grains is the best way to achieve good health through eating, even if you have more exposure, in some cases to some of these chemical contaminants in the food. For consumers who are still concerned about these contaminants, there are options such as purchasing organic foods that may have lower level of pesticide residues as in some cases higher levels of antioxidants. I hope you've enjoyed these segments and I hope that the information that I've provided today is helpful to you as you and your family make food purchasing decisions. If you're interested in more information, I suggest that you look up to the Institute of Food Technologists website at www.ift.org. The most important things we found are that the levels of exposure to these chemicals in foods is very low and that the benefits of consuming a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and grains far outweigh any very tiny risks that might be posed by the presence of these chemicals in foods.