Is Your Yummy Nutritious Meal Safe Enough?
While we talk of the nutrition quality of food, it is imperative that we make sure that the food that we eat it not a hazard to our health. We normally have lots of concerns about the foods we give to our family. Lot of questions arise in our minds before the food is actually consumed by our loved ones. Is it a nutritious meal? Will the child eat it? Is there too much fat? But one thing that may not cross our mind as we are slicing and dicing in the kitchen is the issue of food safety. Is the food safe for my family? Do you also flip through food safety articles in order to equip yourself with the knowledge of food safety in addition to giving an exhaustive read to the innumerable recipe books to satisfy the palate of your loved ones?
Many food analysis reports by reputed agencies show that we consume dangerous pollutants in our food everyday. Some pollutants can initiate disease and weaken the brain. Other pollutants can cause food allergies and can also weaken the immune system that is the main defense against bacteria, viruses, and parasites.
Pollutants in the soil, such as lead, mercury and arsenic are drawn up through the roots and become part of the plant. The soil becomes polluted when air pollutants fall to the ground as particles or dissolved in rain or when polluted fertilizer is spread on fields. (Some fertilizers contain polluted ash from coal fired power plants and/or toxic materials from sewage plants).Crops also become polluted when farmers apply dangerous chemicals that remain on or in the food when eaten.
Food contamination may also occur through environmental pollution of the air, water and soil, such as the case with toxic metals, Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) and dioxins, or through the intentional use of various chemicals, such as pesticides, animal drugs and other agrochemicals. Food additives and contaminants resulting from food manufacturing and processing can also adversely affect health.
Some of the common food contaminants are:
Some of the metal contaminants found in the food are – Aluminum, Antimony, Arsenic, Barium, Cadmium, Copper, Chromium, Lead, Manganese, Mercury, Molybdenum, Nickel, Platinum, Potassium, Selenium, Silicon and Vanadium. While metals such as Aluminum, Lead, Cadmium and Mercury are neurotoxins, others also adversely affect the biochemical processes of the body leading to various disease conditions. When heavy metals are discharged into the environment they can become ‘locked-up’ in the stream sediments where they can remain for long periods of time. As they do not break down, they continue to cause ongoing problems in the environment
Dioxins and PCBs
Dioxins are highly toxic compounds both found naturally in the environment and man-made. The term dioxin generally refers to a family of related chemical compounds that include the chlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and chlorinated dibenzofurans. Collectively, these groups of compounds belong to a class of compounds called polychlorinated diaromatic hydrocarbons (PCDH). Birth defects, immunotoxicity, tumor production, and changes in metabolism have all been observed as a result of exposure to PCDH, which has led to restrictions on the levels of the toxins in the food.
Some of the sources of deadly toxins:
Cement and concrete
Cement and concrete products easily dissolve in water, just like sugar, and are source of silicon and aluminum poisoning.
Corrosives refer to substances such as battery acid, vinegar, some cleaning agents and cement wastes.
Fuels and solvents
Fuels (e.g. petrol and diesel) and solvents (e.g. nail polish remover, turpentine and degreasers) are devastating if they are allowed to enter an aquatic environment or contaminate land.
New and used oil
New or used oil can partially dissolve in water, introducing toxic substances into the environment. These include heavy metals and hydrocarbon compounds that are a by-product of vehicle operation. Impacts on a waterway include:
- Some chemicals found in oil dissolve in water and can build up in the bodies of plants and animals, potentially causing long-term health effects.
- Contaminating the land and underlying groundwater.
Paint, ink and dye Paints, inks and dye contain toxic substances that can pollute our environment. These substances include heavy metals and suspended solids.
Steps that can prevent contaminant intake:
Following a few food safety tips will go a long way in avoiding exposure to food contaminants.
- Scrub all fruits and vegetables with plain water (even if you plan on peeling them) to remove any pesticide residue or dirt.
- Wash all fruits, before eating to avoid carrying contamiants from the rind to the knife to the inside of the fruit.
- Remove the outer leaves of leafy greens, such as spinach or lettuce.
- Take good care of sanitation aspect as food safety depends much on the place where the food is stored. Foods stored in unclean places often get contaminated.