In some cases, they are used for easier processing, improve the color of the product or ensure a longer shelf life. But not everything that manufacturers come up with is also healthy for the consumer. Other substances enter the food chain through pollution or the use of sprays and fertilizers.

Overall, however, despite the many scandals involving acrylamide, nitrofen, BSE and pesticide exposure, consumers tend to overestimate the risks of food toxins. In any case, there is general agreement among all experts that excessive drinking, overeating or smoking poses far greater health risks than the current exposure to foreign and pollutants in our food.

 

Pollutants enter our food in different ways:

  • As residues from agricultural production (e.B. plant protection products and animal medicines)
  • As impurities from the environment (e.B. heavy metals)
  • Arise during processing or preparation, e.B. acrylamide during the overheating of starchy foods such as potatoes or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) during grilling
  • From packaging materials, cleaning agents and disinfectants, they are transferred to food (e.B. plasticizers in plastic)
  • Caused by incorrect storage, such as the aflatoxins formed by some moulds (these can cause liver cancer if the load is more frequent and severe)
  • Occur naturally in foods (e.B. solaanin in green potatoes or hydrogen cyanide in fruit kernels and beans).

 

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PLANT PROTECTION PRODUCTS

A permanent topic is plant protection products (pesticides) in fruit and vegetables. Most of them are residues of fungicides (antifungal agents),which are often detectable in fungus-prone fruit varieties such as .B grapes. Weed killers (herbicides), the most commonly used pesticides, leave little to be reproduced. Pesticides are of medical concern because of their sometimes hormone-like effects in the human body. They are blamed, among other things, for fertility problems in men

In the past, residues of insecticides such as DDT or lindane have caused health problems such as nerve damage, cancer or malformations – they have been banned in Germany for many years, but are still permitted in other countries.

  • Eat seasonal fruits and vegetables.
  • Buy goods grown in Germany or
  • Switch to fruit and vegetables from controlled organic farming.

NITRATE AND NITRITE

Nitrate and nitrite enter food through the use of fertilizers as well as through the curing and smoking of meat. During digestion, frying and grilling, carcinogenic nitrosamines can be produced. Our tips:

  • Eat seasonal fruits and vegetables.
  • Do not eat too much nitrate or nitrite-rich foods (such as head and field lettuce, spinach, cassler or smoked bacon).
  • Store lettuce and vegetables in the refrigerator (especially for salads, the nitrate content increases with the length of storage, *therefore do not store for more than 3 days).
  • Blanch vegetables before eating and pour the water away.

VETERINARY MEDICINES

Some animal species get into stress when too many individuals are kept in a small space. Diseases also spread more easily. As a result, more and more veterinary medicines such as antibiotics, beta-blockers or sedatives are increasingly being used in mass animal husbandry, not only in pigs, cattle and chickens, but also in aquaculture of salmon or trout farming. Critics fear they will lead to allergies or antibiotic resistance in humans. After the use of medicines in animals, a waiting period is therefore required before the animal can be killed.

HEAVY METALS

Heavy metals such as lead, cadmium or mercury lead to poisoning if we absorb too much of them. However, normal eating habits do not endanger health. Due to the improved environmental protection, the heavy metal pollution in air, water and soil is continuously decreasing, which is also noticeable in food. Our tips:

  • Innards, forest mushrooms (especially the slats), fish from coastal areas or large rivers (particularly predatory fish such as pike or halibut) and seafood are particularly heavy metal.
  • Wash or peel the fruit and vegetables thoroughly, remove the outer leaves with the salad and cabbage.