Technological aspects

Factory-made foods have made chemical additives a significant part of our diet. Most people may not be able to pronounce the names of many of these chemicals, but they still want to know what the chemicals do and which ones are safe and which are poorly tested or possibly dangerous. The listing in http://www. provides the information about most common additives. Over the years, however, improvements have been made in increasing the efficiency and ensuring the safety of all additives. Today food and colour additives are more strictly regulated that at any other time in history. The basis of modern food law is the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act of 1938,

Table 11 US legislation (title, main points) focused on food safety


Main points


Consumer Product Safety Act (1972)

Food Quality Protection Act (1996)

Food Safety Act (2002)

Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act (2002)

Definitions (consumer product, manufacturer etc.) Consumer product safety standards

Commission responsibility — petition for consumer product safety rule Product certification and labeling

Financial penalties

It related to pesticide uses The new law will facilitate registrations and reregistrations of pesticides for special (so-called ''minor'') uses and authorize collection of maintenance fees of support pesticide reregistration.

Definitions (food, food establishment etc.)

Licenses for designated food establishments

Seizure and destruction of food

Regulation of certain biological agents and toxins Food safety and security strategy

Notices to States regarding imported food


• 1976 (Consumer Product Safety Commission Improvement Act)

• 1978 (Consumer Product Safety Authorization Act)

• 1981 (Consumer Product Safety Amendments)

• 1983 (Lead Contamination Control Act)

• 1990 (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act)

• 1994 (Child Safety Protection Act)

Source: Adapted from [2] with permission from Blackwell Publishing.

which gives the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority over food and food ingredients and defines requirements for truthful labeling of ingredients ( Another technological aspect is food irradiation. Food irradiation is one means of food preservation that may not be familiar to many, but it has been in development since the early decades of the twentieth century. If properly applied, irradiation can be an effective way to treat a variety of problems in our food supply, such as insect infestation of grains, sprouting of potatoes, rapid ripening of fruits and bacterial growth (http://www.

3.2.1 Technological aspects legislation

Following Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA, 1976) the term ''chemical substance'' means any organic or inorganic substance of a particular molecular identity, including (i) any combination of such substances occurring in whole or in part as a result of a chemical reaction or occurring in nature and (ii) any element or uncombined radical. Such term does not include (a) any mixture, (b) any pesticide when manufactured, processed, or distributed in commerce for use as a pesticide, (c) tobacco or any tobacco product, (d) any source material, special nuclear material, or by-product material, (e) any food, food additive, drug, cosmetic, or device when manufactured, processed, or distributed in commerce for use as a food, food additive, drug, cosmetic, or device.

In US Regulatory Requirements for Irradiating Foods (1986), Congress explicitly defined a source of radiation as a food additive. In a report accompanying the legislation, Congress explicitly stated ''Sources of radiation (including radioactive isotopes, particle accelerators, and X-ray machines) intended for use in processing food are included in the term 'food additive' as defined in this legislation''. In early work on food irradiation, sources of sufficiently high energies to induce radioactivity in foods were sometimes used. As research continued, sources whose energies are too low to induce detectable radioactivity were adopted by the international community. Therefore, this issue is of no concern when currently approved sources of radiation are used, but must be addressed if other sources are being considered. Toxicological safety of typical food additives has traditionally been assessed by feeding large amounts of purified substances to laboratory animals and applying a safety factor to the highest dose of a tested substance that causes no toxic effects in any species.

Food irradiation (1999) is a technology for controlling spoilage and eliminating food-borne pathogens, such as Salmonella. The result is similar to conventional pasteurization and is often called ''cold pasteurization'' or ''irradiation pasteurization''. Like pasteurization, irradiation kills bacteria and other pathogens that could otherwise result in spoilage or food poisoning. The fundamental difference between the two methods is the source of the energy they rely on to destroy the microbes. While conventional pasteurization relies on heat, irradiation relies on the energy of ionizing radiation. The FDA emphasizes that no preservation method is a substitute for safe food handling procedures. The food irradiation process uses three types of ionizing radiation sources (i) cobalt-60 gamma sources, (ii) electron beam generators and (iii) X-ray generators.

Food Additives Guide (2005) makes clear that food additives are an important component of our food supply. They mean that we can enjoy a wide variety of foods throughout the year. They also have an important role in ensuring that our food lasts longer and is easier to use. There are good reasons for the use of food additives. They can be used to improve the quality or stability of a food. For example (a) sorbitol — humectant (420) — may be added to mix dried fruit to maintain the moisture level and softness of the fruit preserve food when this is the most practical way of extending its storage life, (b) sulphur dioxide — preservative (220) — is added to some meat products such as sausage meat to prevent the bugs that cause food poisoning from growing and improve the taste or appearance of a processed food and (c) lecithin — emulsifier (322) — may be added to margarine to help maintain texture. Additives are used in processed foods in relatively small quantities. Many substances used as additives also occur naturally, such as vitamin C or ascorbic acid (300) in fruit and lecithin (322) in eggs or soy beans.

Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (2005) states that the Director of the Center shall (a) conduct postmarket risk assessment of drugs approved under this Act and of biological products licensed under the Public Health Service Act, (b) conduct and improve postmarket surveillance of approved drugs and licensed biological products using postmarket surveillance programs and activities risk-benefit analyses, adverse event reports, the scientific literature, any clinical or observational studies and any other resources that the Director of the Center determines appropriate, (c) determine whether a study is required under this subsection and consult with the sponsors of drugs and biological products to ensure that such studies are completed by the date, and according to the terms, specified by the Director of the Center, (d) contract, or require the sponsor of an application or the holder of an approved application or license to contract, with the holders of domestic and international surveillance databases to conduct epidemiologic and other observational studies, (e) determine, based on postmarket surveillance programs and activities, risk-benefit analyses, adverse event reports, the scientific literature, and any clinical or observational studies and any other resources that the Director of the Center determines appropriate, whether a drug or biological product may present an unreasonable risk to the health of patients or the general public, and take corrective action if such an unreasonable risk may exist, (f) make information about the safety and effectiveness of approved drugs and licensed biological products available to the public and healthcare providers in a timely manner and (g) conduct other activities as the Director of the Center determines appropriate to ensure the safety and effectiveness of all drugs approved under this section and all biological products licensed under the Public Health Service Act. Some representative points and comments of the U.S. legislation about technological aspects are given in Table 12.

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