SHE Level 4
SCQF Credit Points 20.00
ECTS Credit Points 10.00
Module Code MHB226383
Module Leader Janice Taylor
School School of Health and Life Sciences
Subject Biological and Biomedical Sciences
  • B (January start)

Pre-Requisite Knowledge

M2C526397 Introduction to Microbiology or equivalent

Summary of Content

The module investigates the nature, properties, effects and detection of toxic substances in food and their disease manifestation in humans. Plant & bacterial toxins, heavy metals, environmental toxins, and the packaging materials used in food processing are examples of the areas of study. Mechanisms of action, incidences and legislation for a range natural or synthetic toxicants in diverse food products are studied. Each lecture topic will be presented and discussed using an evidence-based approach, to encourage the student's ability to critically analyse the literature and new concepts in food toxicology.


This module will investigate the many aspects of food toxicology including : Natural plant toxicants , their chemical structure, mechanisms of action, stability during processing and physiological responses. Microbiological toxins , their incidence, structure, role and function will also be considered together with methods to prevent their contamination and/or production in foods. Mycotoxins: the structure and mechanisms of action of various mycotoxins will be investigated, types of foods contaminated and the legislation governing these toxins. Synthetic toxins that pollute the food chains and water supply will be examined including the role of antibiotics and the problem with antimicrobial resistance. Foods in Excess ; many normal components of the diet are essential. Large variations in consumption can, however, prove to be hazardous. Examples are hypervitaminosis (e.g. excess vitamin A) and excess consumption of cholesterol and minerals. Medical implications of these dietary factors will be investigated. The nature and properties of modern food packaging material s will be discussed in relation to their overall performance and their potential to leach materials (e.g. plasticisers) into foods, together with current legislation covering these issues. The role of heavy metals in the food chain will be investigated and the strict legal controls that govern these will be examined Effects of food processing on food s will be investigated in relation to (i) destruction of food toxins and (ii) generation of anti-nutritional factors during processing. Detection Methods: current and new emerging technologies for the detection of toxins in foods will be investigated and the principles involved in these technologies discussed.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module the student should be able to:1. Describe and compare the factors and mechanisms influencing food toxicology.2. Communicate effectively complex mechanisms of actions of a range of naturally occurring and synthetic toxicants associated with foods.3. Demonstrate the ability to critically analyse a wide range of literature sources.4. Analyse risk assessment evidence and evaluate the global relevance of food toxicants.

Teaching / Learning Strategy

The major strategy for module delivery will utilise lectures which be supported by a robust tutorial series and blended learning approach. The student led seminar series encourages participation and critical appraisal of the available literature sources. Contribution in seminar series will allow students to organise their time, communicate knowledge and to develop personalised learning. The teaching strategy will progressively develop the use of textbooks, journals and internet for sources of information. Students will be given directed reading in appropriate research areas.

Indicative Reading

Reading lists will be provided for each topic area based on current scientific research papers and peer reviews. However the following texts may be useful Food Toxicology (2016) Bagchi & Swaroop.1 st Edition ISBN 9781498708746 CRC Press Principles of Food Toxicology (2013) Pussa T. Second Edition ISBN 978-1466504103 CRC Press

Transferrable Skills

Critical appraisal of the current literature. Effective presentation skills both written and oral. Ability to assess and understand the key aspects of complex information.

Module Structure

Activity Total Hours
Seminars (FT) 5.00
Independent Learning (FT) 131.00
Tutorials (FT) 11.00
Lectures (FT) 33.00
Assessment (FT) 20.00

Assessment Methods

Component Duration Weighting Threshold Description
Exam 01 3.00 70.00 35% Unseen written exam
Course Work 01 n/a 30.00 35% Presentation