Yesterday I went to a whole day event about contamination. Researchers and other professionals gave presentations about contaminants and food safety. The information was for professionals in the field. I will highlight some information from two presentations.
Ron Hoogenboom from Dutch research centre RIKILT started. He is not afraid to eat food at parties. The food is safe, there are no contaminants that are harmful in The Netherlands. Maybe there are emotional worries but not all contaminants are harmful. It is the dose that makes it poisonous. He may worry about the time the food is already on the table at a party, because bacteria will grow when it isn’t cooled.
Dioxins in eggs is not a problem anymore. Companies worked on it since crisis in Belgium 1999. Tests and research concluded that eggs are safe. However, there are problems when you have chickens yourself or small farmers that have chickens walking around. Because they eat from the ground which could be contaminated with PCB’s or dioxins it is a risk. (Hobby)farmers could better provide the food in baskets.
Mixtures or cocktails of ingredients are still a complex and unsolved issue. Some interactions are known such as grapefruit and its effect on some medicines, but in most cases we don’t know how ingredients interact. Therefore it is difficult to handle these mixtures.
Professor Bruno de Meulenaer from the University of Gent, Belgium focused on acrylamide in potatoes and fat- oxidation. Here I give a summary of the first topic. An important lesson: Fries are not just potatoes and therefore healthy. When you fry or bake them at high temperature a nasty contaminant acrylamide will be formed. With cooked potatoes you don’t have this (Maillard)reaction because the temperature is not that high. Baking at 175 degrees Celsius would be ideal. When you fry them shortly it is much better because there is less of the carcinogen acrylamide in them. But we like to eat our fries brown and in Southern Europe even dark brown (they add sugar in the production of the fries to have a browner color). His tips were to buy big potatoes, there is less sugar in these ones compared to the small ones, less sugar is less acrylamide. The thicker the fries the less acrylamide in it. So Belgium fries are preferred and not the French thin ones. He is fan of the (a future) gmo potato (in USA there are already healthy races) with a low asparigin and sugar level, this means the acrylamide will be small also. One thing is sure, everyone present will have a different look to the fries on plates.