The food that we eat may be harmful for our health due to physical, chemical or biological contamination. Chemical contamination can take place due to misuse of chemicals or if chemicals are handled in incorrect way. The chemicals that may cause food contamination include bleach, pesticides, and cleaning materials like detergents, sanitizers and disinfectants. Chemical contamination of food may also take place due to the reuse of containers for food preparation that have earlier been used for chemicals.
Use of chemical sprays like insecticide spray in food preparation or packaging area may add chemicals to food. Sometimes, chemical substances get added to food as their texture is similar to some food ingredients. Chemicals may contaminate food at any stage through raw materials and while preparation, handling, storage, packaging or transportation.
Common food contaminants are Acrylamide, Dioxins, Furan, Perchlorate, Melamine, Ethyl Carbamate, Benzene, pesticides, animal drugs and toxic elements in food. Food additives and food contaminants which crop up during the manufacturing and processing of food are also harmful to health.
Chemical contamination of food may cause changes in taste of food, vomiting or chronic conditions like organ damage, cancer or even death.
According to Food Safety Guidelines, intentional addition of any objectionable ingredient/chemical agent that can compromise the safety or suitability of food is not acceptable. Contamination of food or food preparation environment can be objectionable in food safety regulations.
All small and medium restaurants, food outlets and food establishments need to ensure food safety by using safe ingredients and complying with the norms laid down by the regulatory authority regarding the premises of their food industry and the services they provide. The norms are laid down by Food Safety and Standards Authority of India.
Food business operators need to check every point in food production process for entry of any chemical contamination into the food. They should go for testing of food articles once in every six months to ensure compliance and safety of the people. In such cases, FBO can go for the testing of food articles by own or through NABL accredited/FSSAI notified lab.