On July 3, 2017 the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) announced the publication of a special issue of the Bundesgesundheitsblatt covering contaminants in food. In the press release, contaminants were described as substances that are not deliberately added to food during e.g. production, processing or transport. Not all contaminants cause inevitable harm to human health, but anticipatory approaches to assess emerging risks should be developed, states Reiner Wittkowski, vice president of the BfR. Risk assessments need to be updated on a regular basis, because state of the science, environmental factors, industrial processes, and consumption habits undergo continuous changes.

The special issue covers various topics including different groups and origins of contaminants, risk perception, and exposure estimation. The article on contaminants from food packaging summarizes the current risk assessment of substances that are regulated by positive lists, explains an alternative approach for exposure estimation, and details new findings in toxicological research. Additionally, new technologies such as nanomaterials, active and intelligent packaging, and recycled food contact materials (FCMs) are highlighted by the authors. The problems arising from persistent organic contaminants are exemplified in an article focusing on three groups of chemicals, among them per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) which are commonly used in FCMs (FPF reported). Other articles relevant to FCMs cover nanomaterials and metals in food.

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BfR (July 3, 2017). “Kontaminanten in Lebensmitteln: Risiken frühzeitig erkennen und bewerten.

ScienceDaily (July 11, 2017). “Contaminants in food: Identifying and assessing risks as early as possible.


Bundesgesundheitsblatt Gesundheitsforschung Gesundheitsschutz Ausgabe 7/2017. “Kontaminationen in Lebensmitteln.” (in German)

Pfaff K. et al. (2017) “Kontaminanten aus Lebensmittelverpackungen.” Bundesgesundheitsblatt Gesundheitsforschung Gesundheitsschutz 7:707-714 (pdf; in German)

Pabel U. et al. (2017) “Persistente organische Kontaminanten in Lebensmitteln.” Bundesgesundheitsblatt Gesundheitsforschung Gesundheitsschutz 7697-706 (pdf; in German)

Hartwig A., Jahnke G. (2017) “Metalle und ihre Verbindungen als Kontaminanten in Lebensmitteln.” Bundesgesundheitsblatt Gesundheitsforschung Gesundheitsschutz 7:715-21 (pdf; in German)

Böhmert L. (2017) “Nanomaterialien in Lebensmitteln – toxikologische Eigenschaften und Risikobewertung.” Bundesgesundheitsblatt Gesundheitsforschung Gesundheitsschutz 7:722-727 (pdf; in German)