Today, consumers are increasingly attentive to food safety issues, and it is right to expect a strong commitment in this regard from the food production sector and from the bodies responsible for controls. However, we must also remember that foods always contain and will always contain, in addition to the nutrients that our body needs, potentially toxic substances or agents. Thus, despite numerous efforts, it is not theoretically or practically possible to ensure zero risk, even if everyone must be committed, including the consumer, to lower the risk to the minimum possible level or in any case such as to guarantee sufficient safety for consumption. The last link in this chain is precisely the consumer, who is responsible for the purchase, control and correct use of the food he consumes. Its role is not passive but active. He must be aware and informed correctly, learn to read and interpret labels, know the product purchased and how to store it well, know how to handle it in the kitchen and consume it at the table in order to protect himself and his family from possible risks.
Presence of foreign chemicals in food
Foods can contain intentionally added additives, environmental contaminants (heavy metals, pesticides), toxic substances produced by mold (mycotoxins), residues from treatments, from process (production, transformation and domestic preparation), etc. The presence of additives in food products is strictly regulated and controlled by official bodies. The label of all food products, with the exception of some alcoholic drinks (wine, beer), also lists any additives that have been added (dyes, preservatives, sweeteners, etc.) in the list of ingredients. They are all substances admitted at international level after having undergone extensive toxicological studies. The limits imposed by law are intended to prevent the Allowable Daily Doses (ADD) from being exceeded with the usual diet.
Between two similar products, the consumer can still decide to choose the one that does not contain additives. In fact, the latter production is sometimes linked to greater rigor in the choice of quality raw materials and / or to the guarantee of a more accurate control of hygiene on the entire production line.
For example, the consumer can decide to buy products without dyes. But it is good to keep in mind that some additives are instead essential to preserve the nutritional properties or healthiness of some specific foods: the addition of antioxidants (such as ascorbic acid) allows jams or fruit juices to be preserved longer, the presence of nitrite in sausages inhibits the growth of various bacteria including the dangerous botulinum, etc. The presence of contaminants in our food is also carefully checked. Agricultural products from some geographical areas may have higher levels of environmental contaminants, for example heavy metals (lead, cadmium, etc.). However, it is an exaggeration to exclude some foods from our diet for fear that they are contaminated, although it is advisable, if you live in an area at risk, not to consume only local products and vary the foods you choose.
Pesticides are also subject to numerous checks. The results of the annual monitoring carried out by the public laboratories of official control confirm that in the vast majority of cases the residual products do not remain above the maximum permitted levels. These residues, if present, are largely eliminated by careful washing of fruit and vegetables. In the case of organic products, pesticides are not legally usable. For hygiene reasons, vegetables and fruit, both obtained with the traditional and organic method, must be washed before being consumed in all cases.
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