Keeping Your Chicken Safe from Pesticides — Chromatography Investigates
Aug 01 2018
Knowing that the food on your plate is safe to eat is something we all take for granted. We don’t want to contract any illnesses due to the food we eat — either through faulty preparation of raw food or from buying food contaminated with potential toxins. Considering the quantity of food eaten each day — the food industry as a whole does an exceptional job in providing safe food for us to eat.
Keeping us safe is the responsibility of regulators and manufacturers. So, let’s take a look at the measures taken to ensure our chicken chasseur arrives with nothing but rice as an accompaniment.
Use of pesticides — under regulation
As we grow more food to provide for an ever-growing population — we need more plants to feed both ourselves and the animals that provide us meat, eggs and milk. As a consequence of this, it is inevitable that the use of pesticides will increase. There are many studies linking the long-term exposure of pesticides with various illnesses, so it is important that regulators keep us safe.
In the UK, the task of keeping consumers safe from excessive pesticides is down to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The use of pesticides is governed by the Chemical Regulation Directorate (CRD), a part of HSE. It is the CRD’s job to regulate pesticides in line with European regulations, monitor the use of pesticides and advise the government on best practice and policy ideas.
Where food is concerned, the regulations give a Maximum Residue Level (MRL) — this is simply the maximum amount of the pesticide that is allowed to be present in the food when it is sold. Before a pesticide is approved for use, the pesticide must be proven to be safe for human consumption at the MRL.
Measuring the level — turn to chromatography
Monitoring the residue levels of pesticides in foods is one of the key aspects in protecting consumers and safeguarding human health. In the UK, the Pesticides Residues Committee, a part of DEFRA — Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs — keeps an eye on pesticide residues and publishes a report each quarter on the results of the pesticide monitoring program.
Chromatography is one of the main methods used to analyse for pesticides in food as discussed in the article, Utilisation of LC/MSMS (QTRAP) and Polarity Switching for the Quantitative Analysis of Over 300 Pesticides in Crude QuEChERS Extracts from Various Fruit and Vegetable Matrices.
In the report for quarter 2 in 2017, 24 poultry samples were collected and tested for up to 100 pesticide residues., with 23 from the UK. Only one contained residue levels above the MRL — and the level detected was not thought to be hazardous to health. Chromatography keeping our food safe.
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