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16 June 2015

Are all these continuous food scares well-grounded?

Experts offer advice on making food safer food.

Let’s face it, if we were to heed the daily warnings about food from TV and radio, or everything we read in newspapers and on the web, we wouldn’t eat anything. Every type of food is (supposedly) contaminated, adulterated and often carcinogenic: and that includes both raw ingredients and final products, including the dishes we cook at home and the ready-prepared food we buy.

Meat contains pollutants, drugs, hormones and nitrates. Fish is filled with mercury. But at least fruit and vegetables are safe, aren’t they? No: they’re covered in pesticides. And that’s not to mention some genetic modification which will have as-yet-unknown consequences. But aren’t cereals OK? Afraid not. The Spaniards found arsenic in rice, so there’s no escape – even for coeliacs.

And even if you can be sure about the raw materials, there’s the issue of preparation and contamination, which opens a veritable Pandora’s box of concerns.

So, are we done for? Can we trust anything or anyone?

Now, hold on a minute! Let’s come back down to earth and listen to the experts – not just the doom-mongers, who trade in panic and terror. Of course, it’s right to be cautious: the news is often true, even if it is sometimes exaggerated. But there are controls in place; and, of course, the more checks there are, the better it is for the consumer. In the controls on food produced from animals in the National Residues Plan (Piano Nazionale Residui) – the latest plan is for 2013 – out of 38,000 tests only 46 failed to make the grade.

So, apart from checks that we have no power over, what do the experts advise us to do? We should vary the types of food we eat, as well as the way we prepare them, as much as possible. We should also remember that although the maximum levels allowed for residues of harmful substances are very low, we need to protect people in the most vulnerable groups – children and the elderly – by making sure they avoid risky or poor quality food.


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