Controls on chemicals in food



Food businesses are responsible for ensuring their food is safe. They must comply with the law on food additives and rules on reducing or eliminating human health risks caused by contaminants.

Chemical contaminants can come from:

  • farming - eg pesticides, veterinary medicines
  • packaging and other contact materials
  • processing - eg acrylamides
  • storage - eg naturally-occurring aflatoxins
  • the environment - eg pollutants such as dioxins

Food additives laws aim to ensure that additives:

  • are only used when there is a technological justification
  • do not mislead consumers
  • do not pose a risk to the health of consumers when used in line with the prescribed conditions of use

Natural components of plants may also be toxic - such as glycoalkaloids in potatoes. Some may be harmful if not cooked properly - for example lectins in pulses.

This guide provides food businesses with information on food additives, pesticides and food safety, food contact materials and packaging and other types of chemicals that may be present in food.

  • Food Standards Agency Northern Ireland
    028 9041 7700