The Mary Renault Society

The Triangle Area of North Carolina

Changes in the Chains of Food Supply

Changes in the Chains of Food Supply, Their Impact on People’s Health,
and Needs for Food Inspection.

Acts of terror killed or injured fewer than 200 American citizens in 2013 … while many millions suffered or died from horrible diseases of food-born illnesses. Yet we spend billions of dollars on anti-terrorism activities while the budgets to protect our food supply have been getting smaller and smaller. People today are living longer and longer, but we are much less able to control the quality of our food, leaving us exposed to toxic food additives for much longer than before.

Evidence indicates that food additives are among the important causes of an increase in cancer, asthma, multiple sclerosis, and other diseases, as well as birth defects, attention deficit disorder and other diseases in children. At the other end of the age scale is a correlation between the cumulative amount of heavy metals in the bodies of aging people and a decline in their cognitive functions. Understanding a relationship between exposure to minute quantities of chemicals over a long period of time and an ensuing illness is made much more complicated by the fact that the illnesses are often diagnosed long after the exposure has occurred.

Some chemicals are added with very positive intentions—to prevent the growth of bacteria, viruses, or fungi, to prevent oxidation, etc. Other additives are the result of changes in the methods of food production (e.g. arsenic and heavy metals such as cadmium and mercury).

This presentation will look at the presence of several common food adulterants, their sources, physiological effects, and how to detect them in food. Examples to be discussed include formaldehyde in perishable foods, nitrates and nitrites in milk and milk products, sulfites in dry fruits and wine, and arsenic and organic phosphorous compounds in fruits, vegetables and juices.

We believe that a paradigm change is required in the overall approach to food testing. Only simple, low-cost detectors that detect instantly the presence of toxins can permit a meaningful inspection of our foods at market entry ports as well as where they are eaten. Examples of such detectors will be shown and some samples will be given to the attendees.

Dr. A.J. AttarInventor and MRS member Dr. A.J. Attar is a former professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Houston and at NC State University and currently is the President and CEO of Appealing Products Inc., located on the Centennial Campus of NC State. He has lectured and served as a consultant in countries around the world. He received his PhD from Caltech, Pasadena, CA, has six US patents, and has published over 60 articles, co-authored two books, and prepared many technical reports. This March we will have a chance to hear the individual to whom NASA awarded its Innovation Award in 1975.


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