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Introduction to Toxicology

Food Toxicology
Introduction to Toxicology
• Topics to be covered:
– Define toxicology terminology
– Define toxicology concepts
– Define food toxicology
• What is toxicology?
– The “study of harmful interactions between chemicals
and/or physical agents with biological systems”
• Etiology of the term “Toxicology”
– Toxicon:
• A poisonous substance into which arrowheads were dipped
– Toxikos:
• A bow
– Logos:
• Of knowledge, study of
Disciplines of Toxicology

Public Health

Environmental Forensic
- Pollution Economic - Diagnosis
- Residues - Drug development - Therapy
- Industrial Hygiene - Food/Food additives - Medico-legal aspects
- Pesticides/insecticides
- Herbicides
• A scientist who researches and/or practices the
science of toxicology.

• Toxicologist define conditions under which

toxicity occurs.
Food Toxicology
• A discipline of toxicology that specializes in
the study of food-related toxins
– Toxins added to food through:
• Contamination
• Processing
• Spoilage
– Toxins that occur naturally in food products
Origins of Toxicology
• Papyrus Ebers:
– Egypt, dating from 1500 B.C.
– The earliest know written text regarding herbal
– Contains work from:
• Hippocrates
• Aristotle
• Theophrastus (400 – 250 B.C.)
• Dioscorides (50 A.D.)
Origins of Toxicology
• Paracelsus (1493 – 1541):
• Father of Toxicology
• Famous Quote:
– “Dosis sola facit venenum”
– “All substances are poisons; there is none that is not a
poison. The right dose differentiates a poison and a
• This statement is the basis for general toxicology
Origins of Toxicology
• Mathieu Orfila (1878 – 1853):
– a.k.a. “Orfila”
– Father of modern toxicology
– Published the first book devoted exclusively to the
science of toxicology
Origins of Toxicology
• Rachel Carson (1907 – 1964):
– Marine biologist
– “Silent Spring” (1962)
• The publication dealt with the adverse effects caused to
the environment due to the over-use of synthetic
• Lead to many grassroots environmental movements
• Helped lead to the development of the EPA
• Lead to the banning of several persiticieds, including
Toxicant, Toxin, Poison
• Relative terms:
– Not all doses of a toxic material will cause noticeable
harmful effects
• Sometimes harmful effects may not appear for
a long time:
– It may take day, weeks, months, even years for adverse
health effects to materialize
• Sometimes harmful effects may appear
– It may take only minutes or a few hours after a dose is
received for adverse effects to develop
Toxicant, Toxin, Poison
• Toxicants may be selective in that they cause
injuries in one species but not others:
– Such as chocolate being harmful to dogs but less
harmful to humans

• Many medicinal drugs are toxic but are

approved for use because:
– Some disease states are more serious than the side-
effects associated with the medicine
– The therapeutic dose is less than the “toxic” dose
• The basic concept of toxicology

• There is a dose or threshold for most chemicals

– Below this dose, harmful effects are less likely to


– Above this dose, harmful effects are more likely to

Toxicity versus Hazard

• Toxicity:
– The capacity for a material to cause harmful

• Hazard:
– The level of threat posed by a material in a given
Closing Statements
• Toxicology is an important aspect of food
safety and human nutrition
• Principals of toxicology are used by regulatory
agencies when evaluating all food additives