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Does Food Safety consider chronic as well as acute health effects?

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Simon

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Posted 12 May 2009 - 08:19 PM

I’m studying Health & Safety at the moment and one of the things that came to my mind is that Health & Safety considers the acute (immediate) health effects of a hazard and the chronic (long term) effects. For example a single large dose exposure to a certain chemical could cause a person to experience nausea and asphyxiation (recoverable) and long term exposure to the same chemical at low dosage could cause cancer (possibly not recoverable). When assessing the risks and control measures for working safely with the chemical we must consider both.

In my mind food safety only deals with acute health effects – am I right?


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Erasmo

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Posted 12 May 2009 - 10:06 PM

Yes.
When you assess the severity of identified hazards it does not matter if the hazard cause an inmediate effect (allergen, E. Coli, etc.) or is a long term effect (aflatoxins, bromates, cadmium, etc.)

The other aspect bo be evaluated is probability. (7.4.3 ISO-22000)



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Posted 13 May 2009 - 01:12 PM

I agree. I think it's something which is poorly covered in some HACCP plans, however, it should be something you think about. I'm now thinking back to whether I talked about acrylamides in a wafer process... Hmm. Probably not but I should have.

I suppose the reason why is that chronic health effects are easier to establish in a health and safety issue (e.g. WRULD) because it's easy to establish what the person has been doing over a long time period; however, ask someone what they ate last week and they'd struggle to remember. So I suppose I'm implying the risks of getting caught are minimal unless the agent likely to cause the chronic effect is detected in your product.

Interestingly some recent health scares / recalls are around agents which would cause a chronic effect (if any effect at all, some are hotly debated) but certainly not an acute reaction. What I'm thinking of are; Sudan dyes, BSE / CJD, GM foods or food irradiation. I've certainly considered Sudan dyes in a HACCP plan before and suggested to an auditor that they consider the risks of GM ingredients when auditing a chocolate supplier because of the lecithin.



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Posted 14 May 2009 - 11:07 AM

People do care about the long-term if the results are serious. Consider prion diseases like MadCow -with incubation periods of 10 years.

The question is can minor problems that take a long time to develop be matched to their cause.

The following link suggests prion diseases can be transmitted by insect larvae

http://www.mad-cow.o..._news_late.html

What other prion diseases with long development times are out there that may have a less serious-but-still-significant effect other than BSE?



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Posted 16 May 2009 - 06:00 AM

What other prion diseases with long development times are out there that may have a less serious-but-still-significant effect other than BSE?


Chronic health conditions needn't just be prion diseases. In fact, I would say that cancer would be the top concern hence carcinogenic chemicals naturally occurring or added to food products would be my top concern on this issue.



Another consideration I’ve just thought of though is a lack of nutrition. For foodstuffs for people or animals not getting nutrition from elsewhere (e.g. baby milk, pet food, food for invalids) a lack of suitable nutrition could lead to malnutrition diseases over time.



Should we also consider the long term consequences of obesity? In McDonalds HACCP do they consider the increased risk of heart disease and cancer associated with obesity??? Ha! That should get people talking…



Interesting about the insect transference of prions. I had a lecture some years ago on prions and BSE / CJD. Very interesting. Someone asked a question about eating beef. Even the experts point of view was that frankly if eating beef is an issue, it’s too late now because we were all exposed in the 80s and early 90s and the risks now are minute.


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Posted 19 May 2009 - 09:31 AM

How about heavy metal or pesticide residue?

Gail



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Posted 20 May 2009 - 08:30 AM

How about heavy metal or pesticide residue?

Gail


V. good point. In fact this could be an interesting investigation for peoples factories. I vaguely remember some link being established between aluminium and Alzeimers disease (I'm not sure if it's ever been proved) but if you have acidic ingredients e.g. fruits, tomatoes, you were recommended in the 80s / 90s I think to not use aluminium pans in a domestic setting. I wonder if they're used in an industrial one? I know acidic ingredients are often canned in cans with plastic liners.




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