European Food safety Authority was forced rapidly to investigate a multi-country outbreak of salmonella food poisoning last summer. Cases were reported from Austria, France, Germany, Luxembourg and the UK. Imported eggs (or egg products) were probably responsible for salmonella infection in 250 people in the UK alone. The particular strain of salmonella involved was linked to an egg packaging centre in Germany.
Phthalates are man-made chemicals used as plasticisers in polyvinyl chloride (PVC) materials such as food packaging, flooring and some medical equipment and are added to cosmetics and personal care products as solvents, fixatives and adhesives. They are also very prone to leaching into the environment and entering our food chain. Phthalates are classified as endocrine-disrupting chemicals – they can affect your hormones –and have been linked to adverse health effects, especially in infants, children and adolescents.
A high-profile team of researchers from different countries recently published an article on the number of people who have died or been hospitalised each year as a direct result of infection with a particular drug-resistant bacterial strain (a type of E.coli). In Europe, this superbug is responsible for 1,518 deaths and 67,236 days in hospital every year. In the UK, the biggest poultry meat consumer in Europe, the figures are 1,580 cases of blood poisoning, 280 deaths and 12,500 hospital days per year.
The journal Environmental Research published a study investigating the effects of fish consumption on children’s health. It confirmed that regular fish intake is responsible for increased levels of mercury in the blood. Even though the levels of fish-consuming children were below the potential risk level, researchers found that they had disrupted hormone (adrenocortical) function that may result in the development of physical and psychological disorders.
The journal Meat Science provides a thorough overview of the content of various chemical substances and pollutants in meat and meat products. These include heavy metals (e.g. lead and cadmium) and dangerous industrial chemicals with the potential to seriously damage human health. The authors also looked into the content of cancer causing substances in smoked meat products and it was suggested that the EU limit is too high and should be significantly lowered.