Toxin free food? Health risks for our food.

In the recently published book Toxin-Free Food? over 100 risk assessments were used to determine how safe food really is in Europe. Here, the identified risks have been ranked according to their relevance for public health.


Food free of any toxins is a wish shared by many consumers. According to a study by the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, 70 percent of the population expects food without pesticide residues.1 The same expectation undoubtedly exists for other potentially harmful substances, such as plant toxins or mould toxins – so-called mycotoxins.

In any case, toxin-free food and food safety remain top of consumers’ priority list. Even in highly developed Europe with its comprehensive measures to ensure food quality from field to fork, there is still great uncertainty among the population. On the one hand, eating food which does not contain any contaminant at all seems to be more of an illusion than a reality. On the other hand, it is important to be able to better assess and classify the health risks to which average consumers are exposed through the long‑term intake of harmful substances via food.

In a study published in the journal Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition,2 risks were first identified and then ranked according to their relevance for public health in Europe. Subsequently, those potentially harmful chemicals in food were assessed in detail to which consumers are exposed over a longer period of time (in technical language, this is called chronic exposure). Finally, an attempt was made to risk‑rank harmful substances in food.