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History of Safe Use

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Most foods that are consumed have not been subject to systematic toxicological and nutritional assessment but are generally regarded as safe to eat because of their long history of consumption and knowledge around preparation. This “history of safe use” of traditionally consumed foods can serve as a benchmark for comparative safety assessment of more novel foods and ingredients. It should be remembered that although traditionally consumed foods are considered safe, they may contain components such as antinutrients, toxins, and/or allergens. For example, potatoes are known to contain the glycoalkaloid solanine and the health risks of eating old or green potatoes have been understood for over a century (BMJ 1979; American Journal of Public Health 1917). Thus complete freedom from risks is an unattainable goal, safety and wholesomeness are related to a level of risk that society regards as reasonable in the context, and in comparison with other risks in everyday life (FAO 1997), and this needs to be considered when introducing new foods/ingredients.


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  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-05392-9_136
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References and Further Reading

  • American Journal of Public Health (1917) Danger from old potatoes. Am J Public Health 7(7):641–646

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  • BMJ (1979) Solanine poisoning. Br Med J 2:1458–1459

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  • Constable A, Jonas D, Cockburn A, Davi A, Edwards G, Hepburn P, Herouet-Guicheney C, Knowles M, Moseley B, Oberdörfer R, Samuels F (2007) History of safe use as applied to the safety assessment of novel foods and foods derived from genetically modified organisms. Food Chem Toxicol 45(12):2513–2525

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  • Goodarzi M, Russell PJ, Vander HY (2013) Similarity analyses of chromatographic herbal fingerprints: a review. Anal Chim Acta 804:16–28

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  • Neely T, Walsh-Mason B, Russell P, Horst AV, O’Hagan S, Lahorkar P (2011) A multi-criteria decision analysis model to assess the safety of botanicals utilizing data on history of use. Toxicol Int 18(Suppl 1):S20–S29

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  • Report of a Joint FAO/WHO Consultation (1997) Risk management and food safety – FAO food and nutrition paper 65.

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Correspondence to Bobbie Bradford .

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Bradford, B. (2016). History of Safe Use. In: Hock, F. (eds) Drug Discovery and Evaluation: Pharmacological Assays. Springer, Cham.

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