The Global Food System as a Transport Pathway for Hazardous Chemicals: The Missing Link between Emissions and Exposure
Ng, Carla A.
von Goetz, Natalie
- Journal Article
Rights / licenseIn Copyright - Non-Commercial Use Permitted
Background: Food is a major pathway for human exposure to hazardous chemicals. The modern food system is becoming increasingly complex and globalized, but models for food-borne exposure typically assume locally derived diets or use concentrations directly measured in foods without accounting for food origin. Such approaches may not reflect actual chemical intakes because concentrations depend on food origin, and representative analysis is seldom available. Processing, packaging, storage, and transportation also impart different chemicals to food and are not yet adequately addressed. Thus, the link between environmental emissions and realistic human exposure is effectively broken. Objectives: We discuss the need for a fully integrated treatment of the modern industrialized food system, and we propose strategies for using existing models and relevant supporting data sources to track chemicals during production, processing, packaging, storage, and transport. Discussion: Fate and bioaccumulation models describe how chemicals distribute in the environment and accumulate through local food webs. Human exposure models can use concentrations in food to determine body burdens based on individual or population characteristics. New models now include the impacts of processing and packaging but are far from comprehensive. We propose to close the gap between emissions and exposure by utilizing a wider variety of models and data sources, including global food trade data, processing, and packaging models. Conclusions: A comprehensive approach that takes into account the complexity of the modern global food system is essential to enable better prediction of human exposure to chemicals in food, sound risk assessments, and more focused risk abatement strategies. Show more
Journal / seriesEnvironmental Health Perspectives
Pages / Article No.
PublisherNational Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Organisational unit03402 - Hungerbühler, Konrad (emeritus)
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