In May 2011, the illegal use of the plasticizer di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate in clouding agents for use in foods and beverages was reported in Taiwan. This food scandal has caused shock and panic among the majority of Taiwanese people and has attracted international attention raising once again concern regarding the contamination of food by chemical toxic compounds. However, although these accidents cause a lot of concern, it is worth remembering that governments throughout the world are intensifying their efforts to improve food safety. In Europe in particular, food policy is based on high safety standards, aimed to protect and promote consumers’ health. EU legislation specifies that food containing a level of contaminants that is unacceptable from a public health viewpoint, cannot be put on the market.
Currently, one of the great challenges in food safety is the control of risks associated with mixtures of contaminants, which are constantly changing. Food may be contaminated by chemical substances through production practices, packaging, transport, or storage. The contamination might also result from environmental pollution through contaminated air, water, soil, and accumulation in the food chain. Among the most prominent groups of emerging food contaminants, those from industrial sources (perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs) and, partially, nanomaterials) cause particular concern. Many of these can be associated with severe damage to human health, for example some are suspected to be cancer promoters. Other compounds have been associated with endocrine disruptor effects, or can be accumulated and biomagnified through the food chain.