Translated title of the contribution: Toxicology of additives and residues in foods

H. Greim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The content in foodstuffs of residues of chemicals, pesticides, heavy metals, mycotoxins, medicinal agents, and also food additives is so small that acute or chronic intoxication is, in general, not to be expected. The determination of the permissible maximal quantities and analyses of the food by the competent authorities, that still needs to be on a wider scale, should assure that in the foreseeable future no damage to health need be feared. Nevertheless, there is certainly no room for complacency, as possible physiological and toxicological action of small quantities of single, or of several, noxae to which we may be exposed over many years, may exist, and we know little about them. There is, therefore, no possibility of laying down a definite threshold value of innocuity. This applies in particular to the presence of small quantities of cancerogenic substances in the food or the use of nitrites for the preservation of meat. This problem can be solved only by further animal experiments and epidemiological researches. Furthermore, it must be constantly borne in mind that most of the residues that are found in foodstuffs, such as pesticides or heavy metals, can, in high doses, cause acute intoxications; and poisonings of humans are the consequence of pollution of food or drinking water by accident or negligence. Itai-itai disease, minimata disease or sudden death of fish after chemicals have got into streams are examples of chronic or acute toxicity. The fact that humans are often exposed to such toxic substances in toxic quantities, not directly but only after the use of additives raises difficulties for the timely recognition of the danger and the tracing of the cause.

Translated title of the contributionToxicology of additives and residues in foods
Original languageGerman
Pages (from-to)492-497
Number of pages6
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1977
Externally publishedYes


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