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Unit Overview


This unit provides a detailed discussion of the chemical and physical aspects of food contamination. The focus is on sources of contamination occurring naturally in food, formed during processing or production (veterinary drug residues, pesticides) of food, introduced as food additives or as a consequence of migration from third party sources (taints, packaging, environmental chemicals such as dioxins and PCBs). Safety of genetically engineered foods, risk assessment, food safety policy, management procedures and laboratory techniques are discussed. Allergens and intentional food contamination are also explored. Chemical techniques used to detect, analyse and characterise contaminants are explored in detail. Safety policies and management procedures are introduced.

6 points

Students are able to (1) define different types of food contaminants and understand their origins; (2) understand the major classes of drugs used in animal farming and pesticides used in agriculture; (3) describe the physical chemistry background of toxicant formation in food processing; (4) define and identify external sources of contaminants such as packaging and inks; (5) attain good working knowledge of chemical techniques used to detect, analyse and characterise contaminants; (6) recognise contaminant issues and recommend a method of analysis; (7) understand the use, safety and toxicology of common food additives; (8) differentiate food allergy and food sensitivity; and (9) explore future issues in food contamination.


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) laboratory reports (30 per cent); (2) an assignment/presentation (20 per cent); (3) case study discussion (10 per cent); and (4) a two-hour competency-based examination (40 per cent). Further information is available in the unit outline.

Student may be offered supplementary assessment in this unit if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Unit Coordinator(s)
Associate Professor Daniel Franklin
Unit rules
enrolment in
the Master of Food Science (53540)
Advisable prior study
a compatible undergraduate degree in science
or engineering.
CHEM5850 Chemistry for Food Science (formerly CHEM8850 Chemistry for Food Science)
Approved quota: 30
Contact hours
lectures: 2 hours per week
labs/tutorials: 2 hours per week

Watson, D., ed. Food Chemical Safety, vol 1: Contaminants: Woodhead Publishing Limited 2001

Supplementary course material, along with class handouts, is provided in class or on the Web.


Chemical Risks in Food: World Health Organization

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  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.
  • Contact hours provide an indication of the type and extent of in-class activities this unit may contain. The total amount of student work (including contact hours, assessment time, and self-study) will approximate 150 hours per 6 credit points.