Toxic Compounds in Food

Plant and animal tissues contain nutrients, but as we have seen in other chapters of this book, they can also contain toxic compounds. Some plants produce toxic secondary metabolites as defenses against herbivores. One example is the nicotine in tobacco. Animals may use toxins for capturing prey as well as for self-defense (Figure 50.22). Ingesting many plant and animal tissues, therefore, can be dangerous. Human activities add millions of tons of synthetic toxic com-

50.22 Naturally Toxic The Japanese puffer fish is a delicacy in sushi restaurants, but only highly skilled chefs can prepare the fish so that its natural and highly potent neurotoxins do not endanger diners.

pounds to our environment every year, and many of these compounds enter the air we breathe and the water we drink, as well as the food we eat. A whole new field, called environmental toxicology, has developed to address the problems of poisons in the environment.

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