Abstract

Pesticides are widely used in most areas of crop production to minimize infestations by pests and thus protect crops from potential yield losses and reduction of product quality. Hence, they play an essential role in ensuring high profits to farmers, providing reliable supplies of agricultural produce at prices which are affordable to consumers, and also improving the quality of produce in terms of cosmetic appeal which is also important to buyers. Benefits from pesticide use can accrue to a number of different recipients, not only to farmers or consumers, but also to the society. At the same time, there is evidence of both direct and indirect dangers involved in the use of these chemical substances both for humans and the environment. Health impacts from pesticide use are of continuous concern in the European population, requiring a constant evaluation of European pesticide policy. However, health impacts have never been quantified accounting for specific crops contributing differently to overall human exposure as well as accounting for individual substances showing distinct environmental behavior and toxicity. Although discussions among scientists and the public have repeatedly focused on the real, predicted, and perceived risks that pesticides pose to people and the environment, in reality nobody will ever know with complete certainty that a pesticide is safe or not. Thus, this article aims to provide a review information for understanding the magnitude of pesticide-associated health problems, identifying groups at special risk, knowing which compounds pose special problems, and finding safer alternatives. Throughout, emphasis is placed on the need to balance alarm about the hazards of pesticides with a sound understanding of precise risks and the best ways to prevent them.

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Abstract

Naturally occurring toxicant contamination of foods with mycotoxins is unavoidable and unpredictable and poses a unique challenge to food safety. Aflatoxins are toxic mold metabolites produced by toxigenic strains of Aspergillus species. Primary commodities susceptible to aflatoxin contamination include nuts and animal-derived foods. Tree nuts (almonds, pistachios, and walnuts) are an exceptionally valuable crop, especially in Iran. The product can be contaminated with aflatoxins, with the former being of special concern because of the strict regulatory levels applied by the European Community (EC). Natural, consumer-acceptable control methods/procedures are therefore required to conform to such limits.

Risks associated with aflatoxin-contaminated foods can be reduced through the use of specific processing and decontamination procedures.

Practical decontamination procedures must:

  • Inactivate, destroy, or remove the toxin
  • Not produce or leave toxic residues in the food/feed
  • Retain the nutritive value of the food/feed
  • Not alter the acceptability or the technological properties of the product, and, if possible,destroy fungal spores.

It is concluded that continued efforts are needed to: Identify and quantify human/animal exposure; estimate health risks and make defensible risk‐benefit judgments; develop sampling plans based on experimental observation; arrive at agreed regulatory levels based on legitimate sampling plans, analytical capabilities and economic considerations; develop procedures for disposal of contaminated lots; and develop plant varieties resistant to fungal invasion.

Research carried out in different regions and provinces of Iran has shown many genera and species of toxigenic fungi, and aflatoxins have been found in different types of food, air, and equipment. Contaminated warehouses are an important route for the entrance of mycotoxins into human tissues, and thus certain management activities are important in order to decrease mycotoxin levels in foodstuffs. Based on the levels of nuts consumption in Iran, many control processes are aimed at decreasing mycotoxin production in nuts such as pistachios and using safe products. Farm-management and food-storage practices are effective at decreasing food-processing times, and these efforts can prevent or minimize toxin formation in agriculture, industry, and food-product manufacturing in order to improve human and animal health. The routine detection of mycotoxins in food and food products for human and animal consumption should be performed as early as possible, before these toxins enter human or animal bodies.

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qa@ahtfoods.com