(c) picus Verlag

(c) picus Verlag

Why nature is not always healthy and chemistry is not always dangerous - Presentation of the book by Prof. Rudolf Krska on 13 January 2023 at the BOKU site in Tulln

Food without toxins or other harmful substances is high on consumers' list of priorities. A study by the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment showed that 70 percent expect food without pesticide residues, and the same is probably true for other potentially harmful substances such as moulds (so-called mycotoxins) or plant toxins.

"It is quite worrying that average food consumers are exposed to a mixture of potentially carcinogenic chemical substances every day," says Prof. Rudolf Krska, head of the Institute for Bioanalytics and Agro-Metabolomics at the University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences Vienna at the IFA-Tulln site, on the occasion of the publication of his book "Essen ohne Gift? - Gesundheitsrisiken und -nutzen unserer Lebensmittel" (Picus Verlag).

In the meantime, however, we have a distorted perception of the possible harmful effects on health of those chemical substances that have been tested most extensively, the BOKU researcher points out, and pesticides are one of them. If the same strict limits were applied to mould toxins (mycotoxins) as to pesticides, it would no longer be possible to market bread and pasta products," says Krska.

With his book, however, he also wants to convey to the readers that due to comprehensive measures for quality assurance and control, on a national and European level, "our food is safer than ever before". Nevertheless, "eating without poison remains an illusion".

On the other hand, the internationally renowned researcher would like to provide assistance in better assessing and classifying the health risks to which average consumers are exposed through the long-term intake of harmful substances via food. In any case, Krska is dispelling a myth: "The lay opinion that 'nature is healthy' and 'chemistry is dangerous' must be questioned.

Krska and his team at IFA-Tulln first determined how safe our food really is on the basis of more than 100 risk assessments by the European Food Safety Authority, and then ranked the identified risks according to their relevance for public health in Europe. This study, which Krska also refers to in his latest book, was published in 2020 in the renowned scientific journal Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition.

For the book "Essen ohne Gift?" (Eating without Poison?), which will be published in January, Krska evaluated in detail what effects potentially harmful substances in food can have over a longer period of time and summarises these findings for individual groups of harmful substances in the second part. Subsequently, the author subjects harmful substances in our food to a risk ranking.

But Krska also spreads optimism. "The good news is that we humans are highly effective detoxification machines that can efficiently metabolise and eliminate many chemical substances - even if we do not undergo an expensive detoxification cure! A balanced diet is the best way to minimise the dose of chemical pollutants we are exposed to. "

About the author:

Rudolf Krska is Professor of Analytical Chemistry at the University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences Vienna and since 1996 Head of the Institute of Bioanalytics and Agro-Metabolomics (formerly Analytical Centre) at the BOKU- Department of Agricultural Biotechnology IFA-Tulln. Since 2018, he has also been a Jointly Appointed Professor at Queen's University in Belfast (Institute for Global Food Security). In 2015, he was appointed Distinguished Professor of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences. In May 2023, he will be inducted as an honorary member of the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin.

Krska, who is one of the most cited researchers worldwide in the field of food safety and mycotoxins, has been head of strategic research (blue area) at the K1 Centre of Excellence for Food Safety FFoQSI since 2017. He has received 15 scientific awards and is (co-)author of more than 460 SCI publications, which have been cited more than 19,000 times.

His book "Essen ohne Gift?" will be published in German and English on 18 January and in Chinese in the spring.