Most of us are aware that food contains basic components such as protein, fat,
water, dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals. Each of these consist of various combinations of
such as carbon, oxygen, nitrogen and hydrogen. Water, for example, contains hydrogen and
oxygen, while vitamin C is made from combinations of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen.
Food can also contain many other chemicals in addition the basic components: flavours,
naturally occurring toxic substances, substances with drug-like actions, naturally occurring
contaminants, environmental pollutants, food additives, residues from farming practices and
other substances arising from the metabolism of plants and animals.
It may seem surprising that we actually survive, let lone thrive after consuming such a
chemicals! All components in food have the potential o be hazardous to health. In this regard
there is no difference between a naturally occurring component, one that has been deliberately
added such as a food additive, or a contaminant. Usually, the components in food that are
potentially harmful are generally present n amounts too low to produce a recognisable effect.
Unless a person consumes exceptionally large quantities of food containing the constituent, or
particularly sensitive to it, then, for most individuals the substance can be regarded as safe.
the most innocuous of substances can be hazardous if consumed in sufficient quantities.
The development of traditional eating habits has generally resulted in diets that are apparently free from hazard. Nevertheless, this may not always be the case. Foods or food components which produce gradual changes to health or changes which require a long time before they develop, can make it difficult to recognise the relationship between eating and illness. It is not possible to be certain that all the foods we consume are safe. (See also WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT THE SAFETY OF FOOD ADDITIVES, and FOOD ADDITIVES CAUSE CANCER)