Controls on chemicals in food


Food businesses are responsible for ensuring their food is safe. Food businesses are also responsible for complying with legislation 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 must comply with laws which aim to ensure that they are only used when there is a technological justification, that they do not mislead consumers, and do not have effects on consumer health.

Natural components of plants may also be toxic - such as glycoalkaloids in potatoes - while 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 chemical that may be present in food.