Course:FNH200/Lessons/Lesson 12/Page 12.0

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Toxicants in Food and Foodborne Disease

12.0 Overview

Foodborne disease affects a substantial portion of the Canadian population each year. The causes of food borne disease (etiolgy) includes agents with microbiological, parasitic, plant, animal and chemical origins.

In this lesson, we explore some examples of toxicants in foods, including naturally occurring constituents, naturally occurring contaminants and environmental contaminants. In order to understand the significance of toxicant presence and the regulations pertaining to them, the concepts of risk/benefit analysis toxicity, hazard, and acceptable daily intakes are discussed.

We also examine the relevant statistics to determine the major causes of foodborne disease and to gain an insight into factors that lead to foodborne disease outbreaks. We will also learn about safe food handling and preparation practices.


After completing this lesson, you should be able to:

  • define toxicity, hazard and risk, in the context of toxicants in our food supply
  • explain the importance of considering the dose-response relationship
  • outline the process for risk assessment in regard to food safety risks
  • list and describe examples of naturally occurring (constituent or contaminant) and environmental toxicants in the food supply
  • assess your risk of food intoxication by each of these toxicants and ways to minimize this risk
  • explain the relative importance of various factors as contributors to the incidence of food borne disease in Canada;
  • gain some insight into the major foodborne disease causing microorganims, in terms of conditions and foods implicated in outbreaks, and means of preventing their growth or toxin production in foods
  • assess the potential risk of contracting food borne disease and describe safe food handling practices to minimize this risk at home

Optional Reading

Recommended websites