Food Safety and Chemical Contaminants: An Overview a

A. Ali, M.H. Akhtar


Food safety is a major consumer’s concern worldwide. Although several incidences of food poisoning have placed microbial contamination on the forefront during recent years, health risks due to chemical contamination still remain high. The most often cited chemical contaminants are derived from a variety of sources such as pesticides, environmental chemicals (PCBs. dioxin, heavy metals including lead, mercury), chemical contaminants as a result of food processing (acrylamide, nitrosamines etc.), naturally occurring toxicants (glycoalkaloids, mycotoxins, antinutritives etc), chemicals migrating from packaging materials, veterinary drugs and other chemical residues. In addition to the presence of unintentional contaminants, the quality and safety of foods could also be compromised by the addition of certain food additives, phytonutrients, exposure to irradiation and other substances. Food processors and the regulatory and enforcement agencies are facing an ever-increasing challenge to meet the consumer’s demands for safe foods that do not pose health risks or alter their lifestyle. As the food trade expands throughout the world, food safety has become a shared concern among both the developed and developing countries. Although food control systems do exist in the countries of Gulf region, in most of the cases they are not in line with national and international needs and are not able to cope with the new challenges of the modern era. The most appropriate methods to ensure the safety of food supplies are the strengthening of regular surveillance systems, developing methods for the systematic application of risk analysis, risk assessment and risk management strategies, and timely communication of information to develop and enforce the appropriate food safety laws globally as well as the development of international and national cooperation. This paper reviews issues, challenges and solutions to achieve food safety with respect to chemical contaminants, with emphasis on the Gulf region.




Food safety, chemical contaminants, health risks, risk assessment, risk management strategies.

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