EFSA Develops Methodology to Evaluate Risk of Chemical Contaminants and Toxins

A new methodology has been developed by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for the classification of chemical contaminant-related notifications from the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF), a tool for reporting food safety issues and related risks detected in the food chain. Here we review the methodology and discuss its role in helping to yield useful risk level data for chemical contaminants.

About the Methodology

In order to determine whether a RASFF notification should be issued, a thorough evaluation of risk level is necessary. Simply exceeding a legally established limit does not automatically result in notification issuance. Considering this, EFSA addressed the task of developing a methodology to enable efficient, risk-based determination of whether to notify in RASFF.

Based on dietary exposure and toxicological property assessment, the methodology is intended to evaluate food contact material (FCM) contaminants, contaminants contained in food, and various pharmacologically active substances. The Rapid Assessment of Contaminant Exposure (RACE) tool was developed to assist with the evaluation efforts. Utilizing data from EFSA’s Comprehensive European Food Consumption Database, it is designed to provide both acute and comprehensive exposure estimates.

Individuals should be able to use findings to derive quantifiable chemical contaminant risk levels. Exceptions include contaminants regulated through Regulation (EC) No. 2073/2005 (microbiological criteria). Examples include the following:

  • contaminants from industry and the environment (e.g., chloropropanols such as 3-monochloropropane-1,2-diol or 3-chloropropane-1,2-diol (3-MCPD), dioxins, dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls (DL-PCBs), non-dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls (non-DL-PCBs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH))
  • heavy metals (e.g., arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury)
  • migration of chemical substances from food contact materials (e.g., formaldehyde, melamine, phthalates)
  • mycotoxins/biotoxins (e.g., aflatoxins, fumonisins, gossypol, hydrocyanic acid, ochratoxin A, patulin, rye ergot, theobromine, tropane alkaloids, zearalenone)
  • veterinary medicinal product residues (e.g., antibiotics, coccidiostats, malachite green)

Accessing Additional Information

As it can be used in most cases where analytical results suggest potential concern, the discussed methodological approach shows widespread applicability in risk-based evaluations.

Substantial information must be taken into consideration in any chemical risk evaluation. For any professional who deals with hazardous chemicals, having an in-depth understanding of them and the dangers associated with exposure is critically important. ToxPlanet offers powerful solutions that enable seamless access to essential chemical hazard and toxicology content. To learn more about our solutions and how they can help address your information needs, contact ToxPlanet and register for a Free Trial.