* Chemical aspects of food safety and quality in the short supply chains

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1 FASFC * Chemical aspects of food safety and quality in the short supply chains Dr ir Luc Pussemier Op. Dir. Chemical Safety of the Food Chain, CODA-CERVA Vice-chairman Scientific Committee of FASFC, Brussels Symposium Food Safety of the Short Supply Chain Brussels, 9 November 2012

2 o Introduction CONTENT o Relevant Chemical Aspects Production environment Production inputs (pesticides, fertilizers) Secondary metabolites (toxins, polyphenols) Food contact materials, food processing o Critical analysis What is known? What is relevant? Practical recommendations o Conclusions 12/11/2012 2

3 Introduction Short chain = Freshness Better quality (including safety) More tasteful More vitamins ( ) Short chain = Less hygiene Less controls More dioxins More mycotoxins ( ) What is the reality? 12/11/2012 3

4 Introduction o Need to look at the full picture and not only parts of it: From Farm to Table Peculiarities linked to small scale production Risk/benefits approach Health as a whole (diseases, nutrition, physical activity, ) Socio-economic dimension o Is it a hype or the beginning of a new attitude (sustainability)? o What is scientifically documented versus perception? o How to put the risks into perspective if any? How to mitigate them? Be pragmatic: look at the practical tips 12/11/2012 4

5 Chemicals from the production environment o Contaminants Present in higher concentrations in some areas of Be Cd (non-ferrous metal plants) Pb (in cities, close to highways, old water pipes) POPs (dioxins, PCBs, OC residues): in wild fish (eel) In eggs (free range) Present in higher concentrations in some areas of other parts of the world : o Nutrients Hg (fish) As (rice) Generally present in Belgian production environment (soil, fertilizers) unless crop specific requirements One exception is Selenium! 12/11/2012 5

6 Production inputs (contaminants) o Nitrates Organic can be better Very dependent on the kind of crop (leafy vegetables) Very dependent on the season (lettuce in the winter!) o Pesticides Generally absent in organic produces but under control in conventional produces Postharvest treatments = biggest source of dietary exposure (antigerminative treatments of potatoes) Food cooking and processing will contribute to the reduction of the residue levels N.B.1 : Nitrates and pesticide residues in fruit and vegetables are controlled in a preventive way by the auctions (not allowed on the market if not OK) N.B.2 : More pesticides in strawberries from the short chain according to survey performed by FASFC in /11/2012 6

7 Secondary metabolites (1/2) o From plants and other organisms (e.g. moulds) o Can be harmful (toxins) or beneficial (micro-nutrients) to the health o Biggest hazard = mycotoxins Fusarium toxins in cereals Deoxynivalenol, Zearalenone, Ochatoxin A, T-2, etc Very dependent on the climate (variable from year to year) Very dependent on crop rotation and soil ploughing (avoid cereals after maize especially under non-plough conditions) No real difference between organic and conventional Patulin in apple juice High incidence of patulin found in local fruit press Important to eliminate carefully any rotten fruit Less problematic for cider 12/11/2012 7

8 Secondary metabolites (2/2) o Plant products Toxins (e.g. pyrrozilidine alkaloïds, solanine, atropine, ) - Edible vegetables like rucola can be contaminated by toxic weeds (e.g. Senecio sp.) - Solanine in potatoes exposed to light (greening) - Atropine: in fruits from belladona plants that can be accidentally harvested with peas Micro-nutrients (e.g. polyphenols, pigments, vitamins, ) More abundant when freshness is guaranteed Organic vs. conventional : no real difference 12/11/2012 8

9 Food Contact Materials, processing aids o Contaminants migrating from cans, bins, packaging material, etc Phthalates, BPA, melamine, heavy metals, Favored when non food grade material is used (recycled paper, polycarbonate, artisanal utensils made from ceramic and metal alloys, etc) See joint advice from Sci Com ( ) and SHC (N 8726) o Processing aids and other chemicals in contact with food Anti-foam, catalysts, adjuvants for clarification and filtration, ion exchange resins, enzymes, acidification or alkalization agents, extraction solvents, lubricants, etc Contamination risk increases when the food is processed; less risks when food is made from fresh ingredients processed at home See Sci Com advice /11/2012 9

10 Critical analysis o Significance of the risks What do we know precisely? What is the real impact on health? o Significance of the benefits What do we know precisely? What is the real impact on health? o Is it possible to generate a risk/benefit balance? 12/11/

11 What is documented? (local production) Environmental contaminants Studies Outcome Significance for health? POPs in eggs - Sci Com advice 2002/35 - CONTEGG (FPS) - Steunpunt G-M - FASFC survey Free range eggs from private owners contain high dioxin, PCB and DDT residues Most likely POPs & HM in fish - SHC advice N INBO - ULG Eels caught in river from Flanders and Wallonia contain high levels of POPs and HM Most likely Cd in vegetables - Vromman et al. (2008) - Sci Com advice Vegetables and animal products contain more Cd in polluted areas Most likely 12/11/

12 What is documented? (organic vs conventional) Mycotoxins Studies Outcome Significance for health? Patulin - Baert et al. (2006) - Gillard et al. (2009) - FASFC survey Patulin present at higher incidence and concentrations in apple juice (organic and/or small companies) Likely? Mycotoxins in cereals and cereal derived products Larondelle et al. (2005) Pussemier et al. (2006, 2012) Sci Com advice Complex picture! - DON & ZEA: less in ORG (wheat grains and flour) - OTA: more in ORG (flour, beer) - FUM: more in ORG cornflakes but less in ORG polenta Probably negligible 12/11/

13 What is documented? (organic vs conventional) Agricultural inputs Nitrates Studies Outcome Significance for health? - Sci Com advice 2001/35 - Pussemier et al (2006) - FASFC survey Some differences between organic and conventional but the most important risk factor is the production of leafy vegetables (lettuce, spinach) during winter Probably negligible Pesticides - Sci Com advice Claeys et al., 2008 & FASFC survey - Consumers exposure mostly << ADI - Postharvest pesticides need more attention - Food processing decreases the residue levels Probably negligible 12/11/

14 What is documented? (organic vs conventional) Micronutrients Vitamin C, lycopene, polyphenols, salicylic acid, Phosphorous, Studies Outcome Significance for health? - Sci Com advice 2001/35 - AFSSA 2005 (dossier Agriculture biologique) - Van Huylenbroeck & Aertsens, Food Standard Agency & LSHTM, 2009) - Smith-Spangler et al. (Univ Stanford), Ann Intern Med 2012; 157(5): A small number of differences in nutrient content between organic and conventional Unlikely to be of any public health relevance 12/11/

15 What is documented? o Impact of local food on the occurrence of specific harmful effects Environmental contaminants - POPs in eggs - POPs & HM in fish - HM in vegetables Agricultural inputs None (under GAP) Toxins Patulin in apple juice Micronutrients Not applicable Food contact materials - None if only food grade material is used - Several if inadequate material is used o Impact of local food on the occurrence of specific beneficial effects Environmental contaminants Not applicable Agricultural inputs Less exposure to pesticides & nitrates (if organic agriculture) Toxins Micro-nutrients Food contact materials Not applica ble Possible increase in vitamins & polyphenols (fresh products) Less additives and contaminants due to minimal processing 12/11/

16 TIPS!! How to reduce the risks? o Cd o Pb o Hg Historically contaminated sites very localized (Example : near non ferrous processing plants in Campine) Avoid (over)consumption of products at risks such as offals (especially the kidneys of bovines) and sea food (Saint James scallop) More diffuse pollution (leaded gazoline!) Atmospheric deposition (leafy vegetables) Wash thoroughly fruits and vegetables Especially in fish (tuna, shark) Young women should avoid products at risk 12/11/

17 TIPS!! How to reduce the risks? o Dioxins Eggs : Pay attention to the chickens pen! Children, young girls & women : better to restrict consumption of such eggs Fat fish (for example river eels) Avoid fish from rivers but fish from aquaculture is OK Children, young girls & women : better to restrict the consumption of products at risk 12/11/

18 How to reduce risks?? o Pesticides: Wash thoroughly your fruits and vegetables Removal of ca 50 % of the residues Further processing (peeling, blanching, boiling, ) further reduction of residues Postharvest treatment of potatoes: wash or peel!! Own garden production: o Nitrates: Is it really necessary to use pesticides? The right product on the right place at the right moment and at the right application rate!! Season s vegetables (avoid lettuce during winter time) T control (in the fridge, avoid bulk deep-freezing) Not a health issue for adults but mostly for babies 12/11/

19 How to reduce the risks o Patulin Eliminate rotten apple for juice preparation Interact with the local producers to inform about practices In case of doubt, do not give to babies and young children o Plant toxins Do not eat potatoes if green!! Be aware that wild flowers in your salad can be nice but that some of them may be toxic! 12/11/

20 Is the balance acceptable? o YES, if: You can avoid (or manage) the most riskful situations (free range eggs, river eels, apple juice made with rotten apples) You can interact with the producers (farm visit, dialogue) in order to have a look on its practices, in order to implement some mitigation measures o And it can even be better, if: You choose for fresh and seasonal products You pay attention to hygiene and good practices in your own kitchen You are directly involved in the production (gardening, food preparation) 12/11/

21 Conclusions o Regarding the chemical parameters, local food, as it can be obtained via the short chains, present only small differences compared to the food that can be obtained via the conventional supply chains o There are some specific well documented potential problems linked to local food (heavy metals and persistent organic pollutants). o Lack of hygiene and good practices can also lead to problems due to mycotoxin (or other toxins) contamination. o It is thus important to inform the consumers adequately so that they will be able to make the best choices and avoid the most problematic situations taking into account their own specificities (young children, pregnant woman, elderly people) 12/11/

22 Conclusions o On the other hand, the short chain market gives greater importance to the freshness of fruit and vegetables and provides by this way some nutritional benefits o Being generally less processed, the short chain products will be less prone to chemical contaminations and this will be even more pronounced with the products originating from organic agriculture. o The contribution of the short chain market to the enhancement of public health will be more indirect, however, since it is a real way of life that will be impacted. Gardening, self production and preparation of food are activities that will contribute to a healthy life. 12/11/

23 Thanks! 12/11/

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