KÖVET visit, tap water round table, Galactic Dairy Conference

Scientific spring: important professional events with the participation of WESSLING

Springtime had important conferences and professional events in store for us again: the trade day of KÖVET was hosted by WESSLING Hungary Kft., and the co-organizer of the event, Tamás János Szigeti also participated shortly afterwards at the round table discussion about tap water organized by the Hungarian Water Utility Association, and at the Galactic Dairy Hygiene Days in Odorheiu Secuiesc it was again him and Zoltán Hannig, head of the Feed Testing National Reference Laboratory of NÉBIH, who gave a presentation titled Detection of aflatoxins in milk and dairy products.

At the round table discussion about tap water, organized by the Hungarian Water Utility Association (MAVÍZ) on the occasion of the World Water Day, answers were sought to the questions why bottled water is so popular (even though it is much more expensive than tap water) and whether chlorine and arsenic are really dangerous.

During the discussion, participants enumerated the advantages (safer, healthier, the most environmentally friendly, cheaper and always fresh) and disadvantages (during travels and at gas stations one can usually choose mineral water, and there is no water on the tables in the schools either) of tap water consumption.

Regarding chlorination, it was told that tap water is strictly controlled, the Waterworks are connected to the authority system online. Tamás Szigeti said that food safety has a price, but it  is an acceptable risk: for example, without disinfection, it is impossible to provide drinking water on a large scale.

Regarding arsenic in water, Éva Major opined that families of the Great Hungarian Plain have been drinking water with arsenic in it for 100 years and, compared to Nordic countries (and to the arsenic content of seafood), the arsenic load is not big enough to justify the limit value of 10 micrograms/liter for drinking water. It was added by Márta Vargha that only one or two generations in the Great Hungarian Plain drank water with arsenic, because from the 50s drilled wells became more common. And it is also true that the increasing amount of arsenic consumed means a continuously increasing risk, and not a sudden jump.

Tamás Szigeti, the director of sales and business development of WESSLING Hungary Kft. mentioned that two articles regarding arsenic had already been published in the Journal of Food Investigations. Based on the research of Mrs. Pálné Sohár, an arsenic intake of 170 mg/day presents an acceptable risk. In the EU, there is no limit value for the arsenic content of foods.

It was said about nitrate and nitrite that 60% of the samples received by the Gaja Environmental Association are objectionable, but a high nitrate intake is also possible with medicines and a vegetarian diet, and massive microbiological contaminations are also accompanied by nitrate/nitrite.

Éva Major said that, based on the analysis of drug residues performed by the Budapest Waterworks together with WESSLING Laboratory it can be stated that contraceptives, diclofenac and ibuprofen were not found. To ingest the amount of active ingredient found in a single headache pill, one would have to drink 3 liters of Danube water each day – for 5,000 years!

Also mentioned at the round table discussion were the hardness of water, which can cause technological problems, and the issue of microplastics. Regarding the latter, it was emphasized by Tamás Szigeti that there are roughly 13,000 plastic bottles per hectare in the seas, crumbling into smaller and smaller pieces which enter the bodies of fish and other organisms, posing a huge risk in the long run, therefore, it is becoming increasingly important to test for microplastics regularly.

Also in March, the external meeting of the Environmental Working Group of the KÖVET Association was held at the Fóti street laboratory of WESSLING Hungary Kft., with the focus on the topic of standard ISO 14001. Several speakers spoke about the environmental management system very closely related to the consulting activity of WESSLING, including István Bárczi, an expert of SGS, who spoke not only about the basic principles of the standard, but also about its structural novelties.

At the Odorheiu Secuiesc event named Galactic Dairy Hygiene Days, the joint lecture prepared together with Tamás János Szigeti was presented by Zoltán Hannig, head of the Feed Testing National Reference Laboratory of the NÉBIH ÉTbI. Slides of the presentation titled Detection of aflatoxins in milk and dairy products can be found here.