MAFF is the Government department charged with overall responsibility for food safety issues, including those relating to the presence of chemical contaminants in food. MAWs policy in this area has two broad strands based on the various potential sources of contamination:
i) Contaminants arising from natural sources, which comprise mycotoxins, which are produced by moulds present on agricultural raw materials; inherent toxicants, which are produced by the metabolism of plants used for food; and processing toxicants which are formed during food processing.
ii) Environmental contaminants which, for the most part, are not added to food intentionally, but may be present as a result of natural or human activity and which may arise at any stage of the food chain.
The evaluation will examine critically the rationale underlying the current policy as well as the mechanisms employed in its delivery, assessing their relevance and the contribution that they make to achieving MAWs wider policy objectives.