Context: European Food Safety Agency has recently warned that cancer-causing chemical compounds called nitrosamines have been detected in various everyday foods and could pose a health risk to consumers.

  • Nitrosamines are a class of chemical compounds that are known to be potentially carcinogenic (cancer-causing) to humans. They are formed when nitrites and amines, which are commonly found in many food and beverage products, react with each other under certain conditions, such as high temperatures or acidic environments.
  • Nitrosamines have been detected in cured meat, processed fish, cocoa, beer, and other alcoholic drinks.
  • Meat is the most important food group contributing to nitrosamine exposure.
  • Exposure to nitrosamines has been linked to an increased risk of various types of cancer, including stomach, colon, and pancreatic cancer. They can also have other adverse effects on health, including liver damage, respiratory problems, and reproductive toxicity.
  • To reduce the risk of exposure to nitrosamines, it is recommended to limit consumption of processed meat and other foods that contain nitrites, as well as to ensure proper storage and preparation of these products. Additionally, individuals can choose to consume organic and nitrate-free food products to further minimize exposure to nitrosamines.

UPSC PYQ (2017)

Consider the following pairs:

Commonly used I consumed materials Unwanted or controversial chemicals likely to be found in them
1. Lipstick Lead
2. Soft drinks Brominated vegetable oils
3. Chinese fast food Monosodium glutamate

Which of the pairs given above is/are correctly matched?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Practice Question

Which of the following statements is true about nitrosamine?

  1. Nitrosamine is a naturally occurring compound found in fruits and vegetables.
  2. Nitrosamine is a synthetic compound used in the production of plastics and rubber.
  3. Nitrosamine is a byproduct of certain industrial processes such as the production of rocket fuel.
  4. Nitrosamine is a carcinogenic compound that can be formed in the body from the reaction of nitrites and amines.

Answer – d)

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