Food Pollution

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Some of the same chemicals used in pesticide preparation are used as food additives. These purposely used additives are not designed to be toxic, but rather to preserve, to improve, and to protect nutritional value.

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The average person in the United States consumes approximately three pounds of these additives every year. Artificial flavors and colors make up 80 percent of all chemicals used in our food; preservatives, sweeteners, and thickeners, a total of 11 categories of substances, make up the rest of the additives. However, determining their potential health hazard over a life span is difficult. 
Certain food additives interfere with intestinal mucosa absorptive ability and therefore affect availibility of nutrients and drugs. Also, some nontoxic substances or chemicals used as food additives are metabolized into toxic substances in the body. Adverse reactions to synthetic flavors and colors include gastrointestinal, respiratory, neurological, skeletal, and skin disorders. Removal of artificial flavors and colors from the diet has been found to reduce hyperkinesis and certain learning disabilities in 50 percent of the children with these disorders.
Some food additives have resulted in unexpected side effects due to antibiotic residues from drugs given to animals for growth promotion and disease prevention. In people these residues have resulted in (1) allergy and increased drug toxicity or resistance to pathogens when the same family of antibiotics is later administrated therapeutically and (2) change of normal bacterial flora in a body area so that invasion by phatogens is more likely, causing infection or disease. In the future, diseases from food additives may assume as much significance in man as do the zoonoses, diseases transmitted between animals and man, such as trichinosis, brucellosis, tuberculosis, psittacosis, salmonellosis, typhus, roundworms, and rabies.
Other food-pollution hazards are radioactive materials such as strontium 90, which has been traced in milk; mercury found in swordfish; worms; and mold, which may be present without noticeable change in the food`s appearance, taste, or smell. Food handlers may introduce their infectious diseases into food by touching it or the equipment with soiled hands or by coughing onto it.
Because of the endless contamination from bacteria, toxins, viruses, parasites, and protozoa, the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture enforce laws passed by Congress, inpose various regulations of their own, and in general monitor the food industry nationwide. Various state and local authorities also attempt to regulate standards within their respective jurisdictions. Yet these agencies cannot possibly determine every breach of regulation. Astute observations must be made about standards in the food store. Demanding to know the growing, cleansing, processing, and handling procedures is not out of line. Reporting suspected breaches is your responsibility for health.
References :
Feingold, Ben, “Hyperkinesis and Learning: Disabilities Linked to Artificial Food Flavors and Colors”, American Journal of Nursing, 1975.
Kermode, G.O., “Food Additives”, Scientific American, 1972.
Burton, Lloyd, and Hugh Smith, Public Health and Community Medicine for the Allied Medical Professions (2nd ed.). Baltimore: The Williams and Wilkins Company, 1975.
Braubaker, Sterling, To Live on Earth. New York : New American Library, 1972.
World Health Organization, Health Hazards of the Human Environment. Geneva : Office of Publications and Translation, World Health Organization, 1972.

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