New PDF release: Assuring food safety: guidelines for strengthening national

By Food and Agriculture Organization af The United Nations, World Health Organization

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In the past few decades a range of microorganisms have emerged as potential causes of foodborne disease. g. Campylobacter jejuni, Vibrio parahaemolyticus, and Yersinia enterocolitica may cause foodborne illness. As microorganisms have the ability to adapt, modified modes of food production, preservation and packaging have resulted in altered food safety hazards. For example, organisms such as Listeria monocytogenes, and to a lesser extent Clostridium botulinum, have emerged and re-emerged because of changes in the way high-risk foods are packaged and processed.

Similarly, heavy metal contaminants can enter food through soil or water or food contact material, as can other environmental contaminants such as PCBs. All can lead to acute or chronic illness. More recently, contamination from dioxins entering the animal feed supply has highlighted both the importance of controlling the whole food chain and the international concerns about food safety systems. Misuse and illegal use of food additives create their own food safety problems. Phthalates in infant formulae, substances in food with oestrogenic activity, and veterinary drug residues, etc have also heightened public concern.

Mycotoxins are another group of highly toxic or carcinogenic chemical contaminants of biological origin produced by certain species of fungi. Five important mycotoxins are aflatoxins, ochratoxins, fumonisins, zearalenone, and trichothecenes. Crops such as peanuts, corn, pistachio, walnuts, copra are susceptible to mycotoxin contamination. Aflatoxins are among the most studied mycotoxins, and the relationship between aflatoxin ingestion and primary liver cancer is well established. Almost all plant products can serve as substrates for fungal growth, and subsequently mycotoxin contamination of human food and animal feed.

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Assuring food safety: guidelines for strengthening national by Food and Agriculture Organization af The United Nations, World Health Organization

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