Food Contaminants Pose Health Threats That Must Be Addressed

While the recent scandal concerning horsemeat in imported beef products in Britain is a clear case of fraud, other food contaminants in far smaller quantities can represent a more serious threat even though their presence may be unintentional. In part, because it represents the most effective means by which to sate the appetite of a rapidly growing population but also because of the demand for convenience, much of what we eat today will have undergone some form of processing prior to arriving on our tables. In addition to additives such as colorants and preservatives, naturally-occurring allergens are frequently present in such products.

The presence in products for human consumption, even in very low concentrations, of nuts, gluten, casein, egg or crustacean proteins can give rise to a variety of allergic reactions in susceptible subjects. Such reactions may range in severity from a relatively mild outbreak of hives to a life-threatening anaphylactic attack in which respiratory and cardiac functions may be compromised. Of concern to all, whether prone to suffer from allergies or not, should be the level of mercury that is now commonly found in tuna fish. It is the responsibility of those in the food processing industry to monitor the levels of any contaminants in their products that may present a health hazard to consumers.

While most nations of the world do have extensive government regulations in place to define the maximum permitted levels of such substances that may be present in processed edibles, some are less responsible. Also, there have been cases of less scrupulous opportunists willing to ignore such legislation where the system of enforcement may be less than adequate. Locally, such regulations are both stringent and firmly enforced. All products intended for human consumption must display a label that details the concentrations of both basic nutrients and any potential allergens present.

IEPSA is a company that has been providing the cutting-edge technology that is essential to guarantee that the analytical procedures required to ensure the safety of processed nutrients are the most effective of its kind currently available. We source and import reagents and equipment for this and for other purposes from the industry’s leading manufacturers in Europe, the United Kingdom and the United States.

For the analysis of food and the detection and quantitation of contaminants including those described and many others beside we deal mainly with two such companies. From Neogen, a US company and an established world-wide specialist in this field, we import their range of Reveal® 3-D test Kits. These are especially useful for on-site detection of allergens in food products but may also be used to analyse the content of swabs taken from kitchens and other environmental sources they may pose a risk. The kits are disposable and sufficient to perform ten individual tests while preparing the samples and conducting the tests takes less than ten minutes so they can help to improve, considerably, the productivity of a busy public health inspector or quality control technician.

Included among the colour-coded Reveal® 3-D test Kits are individual products for the specific detection of almond, casein, crustacean, egg, gluten, hazelnut, mustard, peanut, soy and total milk proteins making this a particularly comprehensive option. During testing, a unique device, small enough to be held in the hand, displays a 3-line readout designed to indicate that the test was completed successfully and to display high and low detection levels.

In addition to these innovative Neogen products for detecting common food contaminants, we also import a more advanced offering from the FoodLab range of CDR, an acclaimed Italian company and specialist in the field of laboratory diagnostics relating to a variety of disciplines including both food science and medicine. The range consists of a series of six self-contained analysers and reagent kits designed to conduct the specific assays commonly required within various sectors of the processing industry.

These include units such as CDR’s ‘FoodLabFat’, used to measure the free fatty acids, peroxide, soaps and Anisidine Value (AnV) in various oils and fats, and the more comprehensive  ‘Foodlab’ unit intended for  the analysis of dairy products such as milk, eggs and cheese as well as vegetable puree, tomatoes and various fats.

IEPSA has been serving the nation’s analytical needs for over 30 years and we pride ourselves on the quality of our products and our technical support. Whether for medical purposes or the assay of nutrients and contaminants in food, we are South Africa’s leading supplier of diagnostic kits.

More Articles

Contact Us:

* Name & Surname:
* Cell / Tel no.:
* E-mail:
Your Message::
* Security Code: