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Case Study 1

You are working as an enforcement officer in an English local authority and receive a complaint from a local resident. The complainant has recently been ill suffering with diarrhoea, headache and nausea. She was very poorly and ended up in hospital for 48 hours. The doctors were unable to confirm 100% this was the cause of her illness, but her symptoms and diet history match a possible ingestion of a marine toxin. Two hours prior to her symptoms commencing, she consumed mussels and a tuna steak. Both items were prepared and cooked at home and purchased from the local market. The mussels were sold loose and she purchased 0.5 kg, all of which were consumed. The tuna steak was from a pre-packed package containing 2 steaks and she ate 1 of the steaks well before the durability date. The other she removed from the packaging and placed in the freezer to consume later. When the complainant cooked the tuna steak she did notice that there was a strong “fishy” smell.

1.    List the possible marine toxins the complainant may have been exposed to, based upon her symptoms and food history. 

2.    Are there any further investigations that could be conducted to confirm which toxin is the likely cause of the complainant’s illness? If so, describe. 
3.    Explain how the mussels and tuna fish may become contaminated with the toxins you identified in question 1. 

4.    Describe in detail what steps the food retailer should take to prevent retailing food which may be contaminated with toxins.   
5.    List all legislation applicable to England that may have been contravened?

You are an enforcement officer working at a Border Inspection Post in the EU. You have been conducting sampling of imported food from 3rd countries to analyse for chemical contamination. You have received sample results that have identified three batches of food that have breached EU legislation. The lab results state the samples are contaminated with the following:

1.Describe the types of chemical contaminates that have been identified?

2.Explain the route of contamination for each chemical.

3.What are the potential short-term and long-term health effects to humans? Give examples of reported cases.

4.How are these chemical contaminates (listed above) controlled in the EU?

5.Detail all the legislation that may have been contravened by the importers?

You are working as a Safety & Quality Manager for a rice bran oil manufacturer in China. The China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) have conducted analysis of the Company’s rice bran oil and have identified high levels of PCBs and PCDFs. The media are about to broadcast the findings to the general public. The Managing Director wants to issue a press release from the Company and also start planning how to save the Company from collapse; however the MD does not have any knowledge on PCBs or PCDFs and their associated health threats. Therefore the MD has requested that you produce a 1000 word report to answer the following questions he asked you in a meeting:

1.What are PCBs and PCDFs? What type of contaminate are they and why are they significant?

2.How do PCBs and PCDFs potentially contaminate oil? Are there any previous cases where similar contamination has occurred in food? If so, inform the MD of the details.

3.What are the short term and long term health effects if food is consumed with these contaminates? (Include discussion on the evidence base for such health effects.)

4.What action would you recommend to the MD to minimise the impact on the Company’s reputation and to protect consumers’ health? Give particular consideration to the current stock and future production? (Justify your recommendations)

Case Study 1

Marine food has a high demand due to high levels of nutrition value. Despite being essential foods, marine food is associated with some toxins (Botana ed., 2014). From the information and the symptoms observed a number of toxins may have been consumed. The “fishy smell” of the tuna while implies poor packaging and storage hence decay. Consuming spoilt fish lead to the scombroid poisoning characterized by diarrhea, nausea, and headaches symptom (Gerssen, 2018). Also, there is a possibility of ciguatoxin caused by the small sea plants. The ciguatera toxins caused by Ciguatoxins may be possible in this case too. Ciguatoxins symptoms include nausea, diarrhea and also appear after a period of thirty minutes. Also, the diarrhetic shellfish poisoning (DSP) produced by microscopic plant and has the symptoms of the nausea, diarrhoea and vomiting also appearing after a period of thirty minutes. Hinder (2011) argues that shellfish poisoning particularly diarrheal poisoning is possible from the observations of symptoms appearing after a short time as the patient experienced.

Further investigations may get conducted through engaging in discussion with the patient and request for remainder part of tuna as a sample. For the case of mussel, the study would need to obtain urine sample from the patient.  To investigate the sample for the various toxins, mouse bioassay method would be useful for the diarrhetic shellfish poisoning, liquid chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry (MS) give positive identification for okadaic acids esters and Azaspiracid toxins. To investigate the okadaic esters through LC-MS there is need to have the have sample test before and after hydrolysis. For the case of PSP toxins, the effective analytical technique to apply is the hydrophilic interaction liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (HCLIC-MS) because it detects the trace level toxins (Visciano, 2016).

Poor packaging and storage of the food catalyze the rate of decay. One of the possible causes of tuna contamination is the poor storage and packaging. In this case, the customer confirmed a “fishy” to suggest the decaying and spoilage. On the other hand, mussel ‘contamination originate from feeding on phytoplankton and harmful algal bloom, the toxins are carried the food chain upward. For the diarrheal poisoning associated with diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting caused by Okadaic acid and Azaspiracid (ScienceNordic, 2014). Upon ingestion, okadaic toxins inhibit the protein phosphatase categorized as pp1 causes muscles to relax that causes the increases the levels of sodium secretion that cause abdominal crumps. According to this study Okadaic acid, Azaspiracid and Ciguatoxins are the major toxins of interest.

According to the Food and Agricultural Organisation of United Nations (2008), food retailers have vital obligations to ensure the retail food they sell is safe for eating. A retailer must ensure they sell fresh food achievable through refrigeration between four to eight degrees Celsius. The other responsibility step is to ensure adequate information get gathered regarding the source from their suppliers. Regarding mussels, traceability is possible if the seller has information about the original source. Also, retails shops must be transparent and should operate under standards and license from the authorities. In case of emergency, the retailer should be ready to recall and withdraw the unsafe food to prevent further damages. Prevention through identifying critical control points such screening all marine food entering the market. Analytical techniques chromatographic techniques which are reliable and faster to ensure the compliance within the limits. Also, the administration and the retailer should cooperate to reduce risks of food safety by limiting food entering the country through various sources. By selling contaminated food, it contravenes various laws in England. “The food safety and hygiene regulation act 2013”. The second regulation is the general food regulations of 2004 (Food Standard Agency, 2018).  According to (Visciano, 2016) the Regulation (EC) 853/2004 that regulate handling of the food products from animal origin. In addition, there is the Flesh Limit ‘Statutory and the General Food Hygiene Directive EU 93/43/EE (Leake, 2015).

Case Study 2


Shellfish especially tunas and Mussels have toxins. If one chooses to consume the marine foods, one should but these products from a reputable retailer. As such, risks of contaminant due to poor storage gets minimized. Also, a reputable retailer has the information regarding poisonous mussels and hence avoids supplies from such sources. Food hygiene is a key requirement under the general food and hygiene act.      

Synthetic organic compounds offer a range of appliances in both industrial and domestic use. For instances melamine, bisphenol A and stilbene products makes the home utensils, plastics and dyes respectively. Despite the range of products, most of the synthetic compounds poses risky contamination effects. Bisphenol A is a synthetic organic compound used to make plastics bottles and line water pipes. It has a raised concern in the consumer product due to an ability to mimic estrogen hormone hence described as an endocrine disruptor. In Europe and America manufacturing of baby bottles bans the use of Bisphenol A (Talpade et al. 2018).

Melamine is an organic compound and has nitrogen by has used such as making plastics, fire-resistant coatings, and kitchenware making. Melamine is illegally used to contaminate milk due to achieve high protein value (Chen, 2015). Stilbene is an organic compound used in making commercial dyes. Due to the presence of the colour enhancer properties, stilbenes are used by food retailer in the confectionary industry to make food look more appealing to customers thus contaminating the food. Its toxicity affects body organs such as liver and urinary system.  According to Food standards agency (2018) Bisphenol A is combined with chemicals to make the plastic products such as packaging bottles and cans. The functional group in bisphenol A migrates to the food that is packages in container packaged in the container though it migrates in small proportions. In this case, the can be used to preserve sliced pineapples acts as the source of contamination.

Melamine has high Nitrogen percent and hence occasionally used to contaminate milk products. In this case, the ice cream is a product of milk after processing. Therefore, contamination of milk occurs before the processing, thus consuming the contaminated ice cream reach the human systems. The use of stilbene as a color enhancer owes to its route in the hamburger patty sample. It is used illegally to induce color properties in food thus contaminating food (Chen, 2015).

Bisphenol contamination causes effects endocrine mimicking, trigger the obesity, pre-diabetes triggers and linked to heart diseases. Melamine has the impact of kidney disease on long-term contamination. Short-term risk is the inflammatory bladder, formation of kidney stones and the crystal formation in urines (Chen, 2015) according to world health organization (WHO) long-term effects of melamine leads to kidney stones and kidney failure. Also, extended exposure to melamine is linked to cancer. Exposure to Stilbene causes effects of decrease in body weight (Garbicz et al., 2017). The long-term effects lead to disruption of endocrine chemicals that controls vital hormones such as estrogen in human bodies. (Garbicz et al., 2017).

Case Study 3

In the EU countries, legislation prevents the contamination through quality control measures such as analysis, filling the material catalog before the release of food to the market (Temple, 2017). Also, there are guidelines for the standards of food additives and the packaging material. The products are approved through the test control in which the products containing the required substances which are not harmful to the health of human are allowed to be sold. The test control is done by laboratory test of each food sample and identification of any contaminates under EU Food Law (Lyons, pp.10).

According to Food Standard Agency (2018), there are various requirement regarding the standards imported foods. Importing contaminated food is regulated through inspection at various check points. Contaminated food in the EU market contravenes rule. The legislations or laws contravened in this case is the “regulation 178/2002 also known as General food Law. The other rules include “the food safety act 1990” Regulation (EC) 853/2004 also referred to as Flesh Limit ‘Statutory’ and the General Food Hygiene Directive EU 93/43/EEC.


Food inspection is vital as it assure the consumers that quality of the imported goods is not compromised. In many cases, foodstuffs get contaminated through addition of chemicals aimed at raising the content such melamine to add the protein value in milk. Also, the stilbene use as the color enhancer in the confectionaries industries. Therefore, it is important to conduct inspections of imported food products. Laws should also be enacted to protect the consumers from contaminated products in the EU market.

History record show fatal cases of chemical contaminations especially the PCBs and PCDFs. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are synthetic organic compounds used in commercial dielectric and heat exchange fluids. The two groups of compounds falls under class of persistent organic pollutants and have potential pollution effects on the environment. According to the international agency for research, PCBs contribute towards human and animal cancer, disrupts the endocrine sytems by hindering the thyroid system from functions (Robertson, and Hansen, 2015). The significances of PCBs and PCDFs is based on their stable chemical structure hence applied extensively in industries (Robertson, and Hansen, 2015). For example, PCBs as dielectric insulators makes the dielectric arc, PCBs makes the transformer as a coolant. Also, in hydraulic PCBs are used for lubrication and cutting oils. In the open field applications, PCBs have used in the carbonless copy paper a primary source of the paper contamination. Additionally, PCBs has used in the public field as paints as plasticizer, and as cement stabilizers (Storelli and Zizzo, 2014).

There are possible cases for contaminant PCBs and PCDFs to into the oils. For example, the scenario that occurred in 1968 in the northern district of Japan known as Kyushu (Mitoma et al. 2015).  In this case, the public got poisoned with PCBs and PCDFs. Kanemi oil producing company in Kyushu used PCBs in the deodorization process. During heating, the company used PCB as the fuel. It circulated in various delivery tubes. The leakage occurred due to the presence of holes in the delivery tubes. As a result the oil produced got contaminated. The bran produced reached poultry farmer and people consumed the oils produced. After a short period, the farmers observed breathing difficulties in poultry as a result of feed contamination with PCBs over 400,000 birds died. About 14,000 people consumed the contaminated oil and suffered the effects of Yusho disease (Mitoma 2015). The symptoms of Yusho diseases include ocular and skin lesions, irregular menstrual cycles in women, weakened body immune, fatigue, coughs, headaches, skin disorders and poor cognitive development and in severe cases deaths occurred.

Investigation Techniques for Marine Toxins

The second scenario occurred in a Taiwan Rice Company in 1979 where PCBs leaked during the fixation process done during sorting of the crude oil. Leakage occurred on the filaments that heated the rice where due to high temperatures, atoms chemically combined with the oil (Mitoma 2015). To avoid PCBs and PCDFs contaminations manager and administration should exercise strict measure such as zero tolerance to PCBs in foodstuff.

According to Allen, Carstens & Barsotti (2014), short-term effects of PCBs and the PCDFs contamination include the increasing difficulties in breathing, coughing, fatigue, and severe headaches. On the other hand, long-term effects include retarded cognitive development particularly in infant. In this case, the psychomotor in children is affected by the consumption of these contaminants. In menstruating women, exposure to the contaminant cause hormonal imbalance that interrupts women menstrual cycles making the cycles irregular. The other long-term effect is lashes and kin disorder (Akahame et al. 2018). In fatal case, the acute contaminant level causes death to human, animals and marine life.

To protect the reputation of the company the managing director should recall the entire product from the market. Recalling contaminated food and other consumer product is recommended under the food safety rules and also reduce further risks and saves a life. According to Klammer, Gueldenberg, Kraus, and O’Dwyer, (2017) recommend several steps to improve the bad image of a company. For example a plan to engage the community by hiring staff from the neighboring and affected community. Also, the company should compensate the family affected in case of death.


During the processing of oils, there is need to practice safety caution. In this regard the quality control department should inspects the process and the final products. To avoid contaminations like the case of Japan 1968, zero tolerance rates for use PCBs and PCDFs in contacting animal or human foods. Contaminated food products are unhealthy and government should exercise zero tolerance to contaminated food products.


Akahane, M., Matsumoto, S., Kanagawa, Y., Mitoma, C., Uchi, H., Yoshimura, T., Furue, M. and Imamura, T., 2018. Long-Term Health Effects of PCBs and Related Compounds: A Comparative Analysis of Patients Suffering from Yusho and the General Population. Archives of environmental contamination and toxicology, 74(2), pp.203-217.

Botana, L.M. ed., 2014. Seafood and Freshwater toxins: pharmacology, physiology, and detection. CRC Press.

Chen, Z., 2015. The Melamine Milk Scandal and Its Implication for Food Safety Policy in China.

Food and Agricultural Organisation of United Nations, 2008. [Online] Food safety and quality. Available at: [Accessed 26 July. 2018].

Food Standard Agency,2018. General food law. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 26 July. 2018].

Garbicz, D., Mielecki, D., Wrzesi?ski, M., Pil?ys, T., Marcinkowski, M., Piwowarski, J., D?bski, J., Palak, E., Szczeci?ski, P., Krawczyk, H. and Grzesiuk, E., 2017. Evaluation of Anti-cancer Activity of Stilbene and Methoxydibenzo [b, f] oxepin Derivatives. Current cancer drug targets.

Gerssen, A., Pol-Hofstad, I., Poelman, M., Mulder, P., Van den Top, H. and Boer, J. (2018). Marine Toxins: Chemistry, Toxicity, Occurrence and Detection, with Special Reference to the Dutch Situation. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 July. 2018].

Hinder, S., Hays, G., Brooks, C., Davies, A., Edwards, M., Walne, A. and Gravenor, M. (2011). Toxic marine microalgae and shellfish poisoning in the British Isles: history, review of epidemiology, and future implications. Environmental Health, 10(1).

Klammer, A., Gueldenberg, S., Kraus, S. and O’Dwyer, M., (2017). To change or not to change–antecedents and outcomes of strategic renewal in SMEs. International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal, 13(3), pp.739-756.

Leake,L(2015)FoodsafetinEurope.[Online]availableat [Accessed August 19, 2018]

Lyons, B.P., Thain, J.E., Stentiford, G.D., Hylland, K., Davies, I.M. and Vethaak, A.D., 2010. Using biological effects tools to define good environmental status under the European Union Marine Strategy Framework Directive. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 60(10), pp.1647-1651., Shellfish toxins.[Online] Available at: [Accessed on July 27, 2o18].

Mitoma, C., Mine, Y., Utani, A., Imafuku, S., Muto, M., Akimoto, T., Kanekura, T., Furue, M. and Uchi, H., 2015. Current skin symptoms of Yusho patients exposed to high levels of 2, 3, 4, 7, 8-pentachlorinated dibenzofuran and polychlorinated biphenyls in 1968. Chemosphere, 137, pp.45-51.

Robertson, L.W. and Hansen, L.G. eds., 2015. PCBs: recent advances in environmental toxicology and health effects. University Press of Kentucky.

ScienceNordic, 2014. A new way of detecting toxic mussels. [Online]Available at: [Accessed on 26 July. 2018].

Storelli, M.M. and Zizzo, N., 2014. Occurrence of organochlorine contaminants (PCBs, PCDDs and PCDFs) and pathologic findings in loggerhead sea turtles, Caretta caretta, from the Adriatic Sea (Mediterranean Sea). Science of the Total Environment, 472, pp.855-861.

Talpade, J., Shrman, K., Sharma, R.K., Gutham, V., Singh, R.P. and Meena, N.S., 2018. Bisphenol a: An endocrine disruptor.

Temple, H., 2017. Traceability in French and European law. In Food Traceability and Authenticity (pp. 48-65). CRC Press.

Visciano, P., Schirone, M., Berti, M., Milandri, A., Tofalo, R. and Suzzi, G. (2016). Marine Biotoxins: Occurrence, Toxicity, Regulatory Limits and Reference Methods. Frontiers in Microbiology, 7.

World health organization (WHO) Toxicology of melamine [Online]Available at: Accessed on (Accessed on 19 August 2018).

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