ESS 205 Confronting Global Change (Prof. M. Diamond) March 21, 2019 – Environmental Hazards & Human Health

Background Food! We have discussed food from a variety of angles in the course. We all eat food for energy, nutritional benefits and, for some of us, because it can be delicious which confers a pyscho-social benefit. Unfortunately the food we eat can also present risks (the probability that an adverse outcome could occur). There is a long list of types of food contaminants that could present and that have presented risks to the consumers. For example, food-borne contaminants that could cause illness and even death include parasites, pathogenic bacteria, virus and prions (a type of protein that can cause abnormal protein configurations in the brain). Some of these are zoonotic (transferred from animals). Toxic chemical contaminants can also be found in foods, such as polychlorinated dibenzo dioxins (PCDDs), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), arsenic and metals. In a simplistic way, “the dose makes the poison”. Regulatory agencies have used this adage to set limits for acceptable levels of food-borne contaminants, e.g., limits for Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria. Setting those limits can be complicated for some non-lethal contaminants where the benefits of consuming a food must be weighed against the risks. An example here is mercury that accumulates in fish as methylmercury which is a potent neurotoxicant. However, eating fish also confers health benefits as fish are an excellent source of essential omega-3 fatty acids that contribute to neurological development. Goal To research (a) one or more nutrient(s) and (b) one or more contaminant(s) that have been found in two types of food that you eat. Your report MUST be substantiated with peer-reviewed references. Your Assignment 1. The research for this assignment requires you to use the University of Toronto library system to search for, and then use information from, peer-reviewed articles from the scientific literature. Information posted on websites, newspapers, magazines and even government websites, does not qualify as a suitable reference. You can access the University of Toronto library search system: https://onesearch.library.utoronto.ca/ 2. When on this website, you can use the option of “Article search”, and then “scholarly”. These search terms will provide you with scholarly papers published by peer-reviewed journals (where the publication process involves the review of the paper by multiple peer researchers with the aim of publishing only reputable information). You will likely need to use specific search terms to find relevant papers. What you need to research: The specific nutrient and contaminant (or type of contaminant) for two food items that you have or could consume. Therefore, the food must be or must likely be available in Canada. Note that Canada imports many foods. Those foods must pass Canadian food safety regulations that are implemented through the Canadian Food Inspection Agency but their spot testing does not necessarily result in 100% compliance with regulations.




3. What you need to report: • Food type 1: one or more nutrient(s), and one or more contaminant(s) that could be found or has been

found in that food. You must cite one peer reviewed reference for each piece of information, e.g., two peer reviewed papers per food, with one for nutrients and one for contaminants (unless the paper cites evidence of both nutrient(s) and contaminant(s)).

• Repeat for Food type 2. Thus, your report is likely to cite four peer-reviewed sources.

4. Format: You can write in short, but complete sentences ending with an in-line citation as shown below: “Some chocolate could contain the bacterial contaminants Salmonella, Escherichia coli (E. coli), or Enterobacteriaceae arising from insufficient hygiene (hand washing) practiced by food handlers in a study conducted in Brazil (Nascimento et al. 2015).” Note that this sentence paraphrases the information presented by Nascimento et al., uses the correct formatting of the names of the bacterial species, and includes an in-line reference. Reference: Nascimento MS, EM Reolon, ARB Santos, VE Moreira, N Silva. 2015. Enterobacteriaceae contamination in chocolate processing. Food Control 47: 291-297. This is a suggested but not mandatory referencing style.

Caution: You may not use any quotations in your answer. You must paraphrase all information obtained from the papers cited. We will be looking out for plagiarism which is repeating the same phrase from a source without attribution. You can obtain more information concerning plagiarism: See the U of T writing website, especially the “How Not To Plagiarize” document at http://advice.writing.utoronto.ca/using-sources/how-not-to-plagiarize/. More information is available at: http://www.artsci.utoronto.ca/osai

Marking Rubric:

Problematic D-F

Fair (C) Good (B ) Excellent (A)

Presentation of all required information that is relevant and with evidence of research: Answers provide complete and relevant information regarding foods that you have or are likely to consume.

1.2 or less 1.4 1.6 1.8

Depth of research that is evident from peer-reviewed citations substantiating each point of information: Each answer is substantiated by a relevant reference from the peer-reviewed literature.

1.2 or less 1.4 1.6 1.8

Style and grammar: Writing is clear, concise, and correct. 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.8


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