Congress topics

1. Chemical contaminants of food and analytical possibilities of their proof

It is a well-known fact that the food we consume may contain certain potentially harmful substances, whether they are substances that are natural ingredients of food or substances that have been intentionally added to it. Food contamination can also occur due to the influence of some environmental factors and during the preparation of food, when we talk about process contaminants in food. It is forbidden to put food on the market that could endanger the health of consumers, so field-to-fork food controls on the presence of certain contaminants are extremely important. The most common food contaminants are pesticide residues, pharmacologically active substances, natural toxins, various environmental pollutants, metals, endocrine disruptors, food additives and contaminants that are formed during processing. It is certainly important to point out that human health can also be endangered by adulterated food, i.e. food intended for which some of the components have been added or replaced, in order to conceal certain defects or attribute properties that it does not actually have. There are strict regulations on maximum allowable residue levels nationally and internationally. Therefore, the analysis of relevant chemical contaminants is an essential part of food safety testing, in order to ensure consumer safety and compliance with regulatory constraints. Modern analytical techniques can determine chemical contaminants in complex dietary matrices at very low concentration levels, by conducting targeted or non-targeted analyses.

2. Food quality, adulterated detection and food technology innovations

The food we consume every day is essential for obtaining energy and key nutrients and maintaining health and prevention of various diseases. Therefore, it is important to ensure the availability of exclusively safe and quality food products on the market. However, consumers often encounter difficulties in choosing food products, so they have doubts whether they are produced with strict hygiene measures, what their real quality is and whether it may be a counterfeit. Food counterfeiting is one of the major global, consumer problems, since it can have a direct impact on human health, and it can occur unintentionally (e.g., failures in the procurement of raw materials) or most often intentionally, for economic reasons. Some counterfeits can only mislead or deceive consumers, but some can also be harmful to them. Counterfeiting occurs in many foods, but it usually occurs in the products that are most consumed or have a valued status, such as honey, olive oil, milk, fruit, spices, teas... On the other hand, positive innovations in food technology are constantly evolving and new trends and improvements are constantly coming, which, perhaps although seemingly small, can have a significant and long-lasting impact on the market and on the quality and safety of food.

3. Microbiological challenges in food and feed production

The food we eat is almost never sterile, microorganisms can always be found in it. Microorganisms present in food can originate from the normal microflora of raw materials, they can enter food by processing and storage process and subsequently, improper manipulation.

Microorganisms are used to produce food and food ingredients, for example in the production of wine, beer, bakery, meat and dairy products, but their uncontrolled growth leads to food spoilage. Diseases caused by contaminated food, due to the presence of pathogenic microorganisms, are increasingly common in the modern world and occur due to changes in habits even in the most developed countries. Although technology, hygiene strategies, such as good hygiene and production practices and traceability are important factors in preventing and delaying the growth of microorganisms, it should not be forgotten that microorganisms are living beings that need food, as well as us, for survival.

4. Food additives, nutrients, vitamins and dietary supplements

The development of food technology and the need for increasing quantities of food, as well as the increasing demands of consumers looking for food with a new look, smell and taste and as long a shelf life as possible, have resulted in an increase in the number of additives added to food, in order to meet all consumer demands and help manufacturers in the realization of the development of their products. Additives are substances of known chemical structure, which are not consumed independently and are not a common food ingredient, but are added to food during production, processing, storage or packaging. In addition to additives, today more and more various nutrients are added to the food, but also other ingredients in order to give food added value or to produce a new product in the form of a dietary supplement. The field of adding additives, vitamins and other substances, such as different plant species, is regulated on the basis of several legal regulations that products must comply with in order to be able to be placed on the market as safe products for consumers.

5. Safety of materials and articles that come into contact with food

Materials and articles that come into contact with food (FCM) play an important role in food safety. Safe packaging contributes to the safety of transport, the prevention of microbiological and chemical contamination and the extension of the shelf life of food. Circular economy regulations oblige producers to apply new, environmentally friendly materials, which must also not jeopardize food safety and should comply with legal standards. Food contact with the materials used for its packaging can lead to migration of certain chemical substances, which are then introduced into the human body through food and can have adverse effects on health. Substances that may seriously affect human health are substances of particular concern (SVHC). These are substances that can be carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic to reproduction (CMR), substances with persistent, biocumulative and toxic effect (PBT) and endocrine disrupting substances (EDC). In the interest of protecting human health and preventing the presence of harmful chemicals in food, continuous compliance with applicable legal regulations at all stages of production, processing and distribution and regular analytical verification of restricted permitted and prohibited substances is necessary.