People are being exposed to toxic chemicals through the contaminated food they eat

Contaminated food

22.09.2006

Traces of man-made pollutants, which are linked to health problems including cancer and foetal deformities, were found in every one of 27 food products tested.

Experts at the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) believe that the findings could help explain why all 352 blood samples provided by people over the last five years as part of a separate study were found to be contaminated with chemicals.

For the report, called Chain Of Contamination: The Food Link, WWF tested staples, including bread, milk and eggs, from countries around Europe for eight different groups of man-made chemicals - organochlorine pesticides, PCBs, brominated flame retardants, perfluorinated chemicals, phthalates, organotins, alkylphenols and artificial musks.

Contaminated food uses man made chemicals

The chemicals are used in the manufacture of products including packaging, detergents, cosmetics and pesticides.

The food testing results found the synthetic chemicals in all of the analysed foods ranging from phthalates in olive oil, cheeses and meats, banned organochlorine pesticides in fish and Finnish reindeer meat, artificial musks and organotins in fish, and flame retardants in meats and cheeses.

Although none of the contaminants in the quantities detected is thought to be dangerous, the WWF is concerned about the possible effect of the different chemicals combining in the body.

Paul King, director of campaigns for WWF-UK, said: "Because of decades of inadequate legislation, even healthy diets are exposing us all to a raft of potentially harmful chemicals - and nowhere near enough is known about the long-term effects of exposure to multiple chemical contaminants.

"While each item of food we tested is probably safe to eat on its own, taken together over long periods of time the food we eat contributes significantly to our body burden of chemicals."

The WWF is calling for strict controls on the use of chemicals to be introduced by the European Parliament when it votes on the issue next month.

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