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Chemical Safety of Food - Introduction

Chemical substances play an important role in food production and distribution. As food additives, they prolong for example the shelf life of foods, and, as colours and flavourings, they may make foods more attractive. Other chemicals are pharmacologically active and therefore used to fight diseases in farm animals and on crops.

To keep food hygienic and attractive it needs to be kept in containers that are made of chemical substances such as plastics. These clear benefits of the use of chemicals in food production and distribution have, on the other hand, to be balanced with potential risks for the health of the food consumer due to side effects and residues of these chemicals.

Moreover, a number of chemical substances are present in the environment as pollutants. These contaminants are unintentionally present in raw materials used in food production and distribution and can often not be avoided. Community food legislation aims at the establishment of the right balance between risks and benefits of substances that are used intentionally and at the reduction of contaminants in accordance with the high level of consumer protection that is required in Article 152 of the Treaty establishing the European Community.

To achieve this high level of health protection for the consumer, a risk analysis procedure that is based on sound scientific evaluation and takes into account other factors, such as the feasibility of control, underpins Community legislation. For chemical substances in food, legislation is divided into the following areas:

Modus Operandi. pdf