Chemosensory stimuli in foods can impact physiology and psychology; people are more sensitive to smell than commonly thought and reactions are personal and not necessarily linked to danger. Non intentionally added substances, often from processing and/or packaging, may be responsible for off-flavours and smells. These contaminants may not be of toxicological importance, but may be indicators of other, important, contaminants that do not smell, such as mineral oils.
Food Production Systems and Research
The uncertainty in our food production system is large and the system is complex and dependant on supply and demand. When deciding what to eat today, how do we incorporate the relevant data and reduce our anxiety about food safety? Transformative research is the key: finding new ways to look at things will lead to innovation and radical changes. European infrastructure must address the big data needed to make decisions, holistic decisions that have a positive impact on society and not decisions that solve one problem but could divert attention and resources from substantive food health issues or even case others.
Information is important, but we must also actually create new foods and explore new areas. The participation of industry in food safety measures is therefore crucial, as is public confidence in food professionals and quality assurance scientists. The challenges to food safety are large and we need a continual flow of new options to move forward.
Food safety is complex and its impact is long term. Acute deaths linked to food consumption are rare indicating the need to focus on long-term effects of our food. The main barrier to controlling the safety of the entire chain is elusive; we don’t yet know whether the greatest challenges in food safety are microbiological, common ingredients, or chemical residues.
Vigilance is a requirement for a continually safe food system. Consumers must remain confident about the safety of their food but at the same time be vigilant in their own practices. Rapid testing methods and ensuring food production operatives have completed relevant food safety courses would increase worldwide safety and value of these products.