Investigating new technologies and methodologies for food intake and dietary exposure assessment

Background

As the saying goes ‘we are what we eat’, but how well do we really know the composition of our food and, more importantly, how much of it do we actually eat? Assessing the intake and exposure of individuals to the many different (intentionally or non-intentionally added) substances in food is a key component of any risk-benefit assessment for ensuring safe and healthy food for the consumer.

Upcoming

The task force will be kicking off an expert group on `The Potential for Incorporating Data on Occurrence and Consumer Loyalty into Dietary Exposure Models` striving for more accurate intake and exposure assessment models.
The task force is considering to develop one or more new activity proposals on:

  • The applicability of different surveying techniques in the context of chronic exposure;
  • Processed food level systems in Europe;
  • The use of barcode information or digital photos alongside food recall questionnaires to improve intake estimates; or
  • Investigate the status quo of the development of new exposure estimates within regulatory bodies.

What's New

A new article on ‘Assessing and Reporting Uncertainties in Dietary Exposure Analysis – Part II: Application of the Uncertainty Template to a Practical Example of Exposure Assessment’ (D. Tennant et al., 2017) has been accepted for publication in Food and Chemical Toxicology.

Objectives

The Dietary Intake and Exposure Task Force reviews, evaluates and develops methods to estimate intake of energy, nutrients and food ingredients, such as food additives, chemical contaminants, flavours and other substances in the diet. By developing more realistic intake and exposure scenarios of what Europeans eat, the task force aims to improve the estimates of dietary intake and contribute to more relevant nutrition and health recommendations as well as safety assessments.

Impact

  • The task force actively contributes to the assessment of risk via its publications providing essential guidance to risk assessors and risk managers.
  • Our publication on ‘Assessing and Reporting Uncertainties in Dietary Exposure Analysis – Mapping of Uncertainties in a Tiered Approach’ (S. Kettler et al., 2015), was downloaded or viewed about 900 times in the first three months after its publication (94% downloads from the public sector) and was shared with EFSA in response to a public consultation call in September 2015.

For more detailed information, please contact Ms Nevena Hristozova at NHristozova@ilsieurope.be

Task Force Members

Expert Groups

The Potential for Incorporating Data on Occurrence and Consumer Loyalty into Dietary Exposure Models – NEW

Objectives
Many methods routinely used for the assessment of dietary exposure to substances assume that all foods in a category where the compound is permitted will contain said chemicals. This distorts the exposure assessment when several different additives are authorised to serve the same technological function in the same foods. The choice of a particular additive depends on its intrinsic properties, interactions and conditions of use, next to its regulation. In reality, many food products in a category where a substance is authorised will not contain the substance at all. Better exposure assessments need better data on frequency of consumption. Additional source of data could be user brand loyalty information, provided that the current models do not assume ’100% or none’ adherence to a product.

Activity
This activity will conduct a workshop with a panel of experts specialised in collecting or using data related to the presence of additives and other substances in food, in consumer behaviour with regard to brand loyalty or in exposure modelling methodology.

Expected Outcome
The expected outcome of this workshop is a follow up publication to:

  • Review the available information on additive occurrence and brand loyalty; and
  • To consider potential methods for incorporating occurrence data into exposure models including a discussion on database maintenance, etc.

The experts will provide guidance to improve the methods to assess consumer exposures to additives and other food chemicals by identifying relevant information for more realistic exposure modelling. This will help to reduce unnecessary conservatism in exposure assessments. The added value is in evaluating data that could be used in future assessments of co-exposure to food chemicals.

Evaluation of New Methods for Dietary Intake Assessment

Objectives
Many new tools and applications are being developed to assess the diets of individuals and for research aims but they vary widely in quality. This activity focuses on identifying new tools used for dietary assessment (web-based, mobile phone apps, wearables, etc.), and is evaluating them to better understand their strengths and limitations in assessing the diets of individuals primarily in the research setting.

Activity
Comprehensive literature searches are being used to identify new tools for dietary intake assessment. These will be evaluated based on a comprehensive list of criteria developed for the project. This criteria will include details on the type of tool, various tool features, number of foods/beverages and nutrients, product attributes, target population, ease of use, validation and output. In addition, features of popular mobile phone applications that have not yet been evaluated for potential use in contributing towards collecting food intake data will be assessed.

Expected Output
A publication will feature summary information about the tools and the evaluation criteria to help relevant stakeholders to better understand their strengths, shortcomings and applicability. Ultimately, this project will provide guidelines for developers that will improve the quality of dietary intake assessment tools and the usability of various applications in scientific research.

Expert Group and Workshop
Identifying Practical Ways of Determining Uncertainties in Food Intake Assessments Completed

Objectives
The expert group reviewed and assessed existing data on methods available for determining uncertainties in food
intake assessments, both at European and international levels.

Activity
This activity described the uncertainties present in various dietary exposure assessments and classified these uncertainties to support more accurate food intake and dietary exposure assessments. A case study was used to discuss and map relevant uncertainties in specific assessment methodologies and models used for a range of food components.

Output
First, uncertainties in food and food ingredients intake assessments were mapped and analysed. In addition, methods were assessed to characterise the uncertainties for decision makers and the model of uncertainty tables integrated for the different tiers of a dietary exposure assessment. Following the ILSI Europe workshop on ‘Assessing and Reporting Uncertainties in Dietary Exposure Analysis’ (6 February 2014, Brussels, Belgium), which included representatives from the European Commission, EFSA, FAO and WHO, two manuscripts were prepared. The first describes the mapping of uncertainties in a tiered approach and has been disseminated at international conferences, including the 12th European Nutrition Conference FENS 2015 (20-23 October 2015, Berlin, Germany) and the 9th International Conference on Diet and Activity Methods ICDAM 2015 (1-3 September 2015, Brisbane, Australia). Additionally, the publication was shared with EFSA in response to a public consultation call in September 2015. The second manuscript focuses on the practical application (aspartame case study), graphical representation and communication of uncertainties (D. Tennant et al., 2017).

Adequate Methodologies for Recording Fluid and Water Intake at Population Level – Completed

Objectives
Fluid intake is currently a topic of key interest in Europe in light of EFSA’s initiatives to review their dietary exposure survey methodologies and gather new pan-European data. This project aimed to review and improve methodologies to accurately assess water and fluid intake as this topic has received very little attention in national food surveys.

Activity
The expert group reviewed and assessed the current methodologies used in national dietary surveys to capture fluid and water intake. Ten surveys were completed from ten countries using an electronic questionnaire. A variety of methods were reported for recording total water, beverages and fluid intakes; although the methods seemed to be representative of the population in terms of age and socio-economic status, none of them were validated to assess water and fluid intakes, and the methods used to record liquid foods were inconsistent.

Output
Current food intake methodologies are inadequate to accurately record fluid and water intake. Further investigation and guidelines for a harmonised approach to surveying and quantifying water and fluid intake have been proposed as part of this activity, in order to improve fluid intake records in the future. The findings were recently published in the British Journal of Nutrition and the main outcomes were presented at the 12th European Nutrition Conference FENS 2015 (22 October 2015, Berlin, Germany), within the session organised by the Dietary Intake and Exposure Task Force.

GUIDEA : GUIdance for Dietary Intake Exposure Assessment – Completed

Objectives
This expert group produced a practical online guide for conducting intake and exposure assessments. The goal was to encourage harmonisation of practices for determining assessments, leading to better health recommendations.

Activity
Experts developed a web-based database which provides a centralised and comprehensive platform for sharing information and discussing approaches on the exposure assessment of individuals to substances in foods, such as migrates from food additives, nutrients, packaging and pesticides.

Output
GUIDEA is a single, interactive source of reference covering all aspects of the methods, principles and approaches used to conduct and interpret dietary intake and exposure assessments on the complete range of components in the diet. The article by J. Howlett et al. (2013) published in Food and Nutrition Sciences gives a comprehensive overview of GUIDEA and the principles on which it was constructed. More information can also be found on our GUIDEA website www.ilsi-guidea.org.

Timeline
GUIDEA is an initiative of global relevance. Thus, the inclusion of new knowledge covering regional needs would significantly increase its value. ILSI Europe is now exploring other options for long-term sustainability and further development of GUIDEA. As of October 2016, the expert group activities to further improve the tool have ended. Additionally, ILSI Europe has recently offered GUIDEA to volunteering ILSI branches and held an information session on GUIDEA at the 2017 ILSI Annual Meeting, as this would be an outstanding opportunity to foster an improved understanding and harmonisation of dietary exposure / intake assessment methodologies, in the context of an international knowledge network. Options on how to utilise GUIDEA in more global context via the ILSI Global network are currently being assessed.

Expert Group Members

Evaluation of New Methods for Dietary Intake Assessment

Identifying Practical Ways of Determining Uncertainties in Food Intake Assessments

*Dr Susanne Kettler is a former representative of The Coca-Cola Company

Adequate Methodologies for Recording Fluid and Water Intake at Population Level – Completed

GUIDEA : GUIdance for Dietary Intake Exposure Assessment – Completed

Publications

All Publications

The Role of Hazard- and Risk-Based Approaches in Ensuring Food Safety

Trends in Food Science & Technology. 2015;46(2) Part A:176-188. Supported by the following task forces: Emerging Microbiological Issues, Food Allergy, Food Intake Methodology, Novel Foods and Nanotechnology, Process Related Compounds and Natural Toxins, Risk Analysis in Food Microbiology, and Threshold of Toxicological Concern.

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