A contaminant is any physical, chemical or biological entity that is potentially undesirable for the human health. Contaminants are the substances which are not intentionally added to food items, but there are probable situations where the contaminants come in contact with a food item. They are:
* Operations involved in crop husbandry
* Operation involved in animal husbandry
* Operations involved in production veterinary medicines
* During manufacturing
* Packing or packaging
* During transportation or holding of food items
Contaminants can be man-made substances produced by factories, such as DDT or toxaphene. Industrial contaminants expose extensive threat as they have a long life and can spread to a larger area.
The industrial effluents enter into the upper atmosphere and end up falling to the ground in the form of precipitation, contaminating the environment.
Chemicals like calcium carbide and oxytocin are reportedly being used in fruit and vegetable for artificial ripening of fruits and for increasing the size of fruits and vegetables respectively.
Calcium carbide is a carcinogenic agent and banned under the Food Safety and Standards (Contaminants, Toxins and Residues) Regulations, 2011. Ethephon is a pesticide and so it is not recommended as a ripening enhancer.
Oxytocin is a mammalian hormone, used as a drug in veterinary services which is not advised for use in fresh fruits and vegetables.
In harmonization with the international laws pertaining to contaminants, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India has banned certain chemicals to be used in food production.
The FBOs are advised by the FSSAI to test their food products to check the presence of contaminants before introducing to the final consumer. It is also been regulated that the FBOs are liable to test their food products once in every six months to check if they are free from any contamination.