PARIS: Cancer-causing chemical compounds called nitrosamines have been detected in a range of everyday foods and could pose health risks to consumers, according to a new study by the European Union agency.
According to Dieter Schrenk, chair of the EFSA's panel on contaminants in the food chain, the level of exposure to nitrosamines in food raises health concerns for all age groups in the EU population.
Based on animal studies, he said that liver tumours were the most critical health effect in rodents.
Nitrosamines have been detected in foods including cured meat, processed fish, cocoa, beer, and other alcoholic drinks, according to the EFSA.
The meat is the most important food group that contributes to nitrosamine exposure, it said.
Schrenk said that the research deployed a worst-case scenario based on a hypothetical scenario in which all nitrosamines detected in food had the potential to cause cancer as the most harmful form of the compound - although that is unlikely. EFSA said there were knowledge gaps about the presence of nitrosamines in some food groups.
It advised a balanced diet with a wide variety of foods to reduce the consumption of nitrosamines.
The EFSA said its opinion will be shared with the European Commission -- the EU's executive arm, which will in turn discuss potential risk management measures with nations in the 27 member bloc.