Improve scientific knowledge on contaminants in food to ensure safer food products

Background

As consumers are often exposed to naturally occurring contaminants and process-related compounds in their diets, it is crucial to investigate how these compounds are formed in order to improve how we detect and measure them and to assess their safety.

Upcoming

An ILSI Europe Report Series is being developed as a follow-up activity of the publication on ‘Impact of Food Processing on Mycotoxin Contamination’ (P. Karlovsky et al., 2016). It aims to provide industry with practical guidelines to mitigate mycotoxins.
A potential new activity on ‘Mycotoxin Mixtures, Their Combined Exposure and Risk for Public Health’ is being considered. It could focus on the assessment of in-vitro approaches used to assess the toxicology of mycotoxin mixtures and to provide recommendations to improve risk assessment.

What’s New

The upcoming workshop on Mineral Oils, jointly organised with the Packaging Materials Task Force, will address issues related to occurrence, analytical methods and health risk; across different sectors, e.g. food, packaging, cosmetic, lubricant.

Objectives

The task force aims to advance the scientific knowledge relating to such substances, particularly focusing on assessing their impact on human health. Key topics include consideration of toxicity, exposure, mitigation impact and analytical aspects.

Impact

Participate in highly impactful activities: our publication on masked mycotoxins (F. Berthiller et al., 2013) was cited more than 260 times, while our latest publication on mycotoxin mitigation (P. Karlovsky et al., 2016) was downloaded more than 6,100 times.
A webinar (M. Suman, I.P. Oswald, J. De Meester, 29th November 2016) organised in collaboration with International Association for Food Protection (IAFP) attracted more than 500 tripartite registrants from more than 60 different countries.

For more detailed information, please contact Dr Pierre Dussort at pdussort@ilsieurope.be

Task Force Members


* Scientific Advisor

Expert Groups

Workshop − Mineral Oil Risk Assessment: Knowledge Gaps and Roadmap – New
In collaboration with the Packaging Materials Task Force

Objectives
This activity aims to bring together tripartite stakeholders across sectors − food, packaging, cosmetics and lubricants − to examine the current approaches used to establish the safety of mineral oil hydrocarbons. This will include identification of the data gaps on sources of exposure (both dietary and non-dietary) current analytical methodologies, approaches to risk assessment and potential mitigation risk management measures.

Activity
There is uncertainty about the exposure to mineral oils, how/what to measure and characterise, and ultimately what this exposure means in terms of consumer safety. There is consensus between multi-sector stakeholders for a need to address knowledge/data gaps on mineral oils. This activity will bring tripartite stakeholders together to share knowledge and define how best to address the knowledge gaps and uncertainties in the risk assessment.

Practical Guidance for Industry on the Use of Food Processing and Detoxification Treatments on Mycotoxin Contamination Report Series – New

Objectives
The aim of this activity is to form specific guidance for industry based on the scientific findings of the expert group on ‘Reactions and Potential Mitigation of Mycotoxins during Food Processing’ which were published in Mycotoxin Research.

Activity
This Report Series will help international food producers to adapt their processes and national/international official bodies to recommend mycotoxin mitigation treatment to food producers. This publication could be periodically enriched with new literature and extended to other commodities or innovative processes.

New Approaches to Exposure Assessment of Process-Related Contaminants in Food by Biomarker Monitoring

Objectives
The development of new approaches for assessing human exposure to chemical contaminants increasingly rely on biomarker monitoring in easily accessible body fluids such as urine, saliva or blood. The advent of methodologies to monitor biomarkers of diet-related exposure to process-related compounds is expected to allow for a significant step forward in risk assessment, as well as supporting decision-making and prioritisation for risk mitigation. This activity aimed to critically assess the state-of-the-art with respect to the use of biomarkers of exposure for process contaminants such as acrylamide, 3-MCPD esters, glycidyl esters, furan and acrolein. These are all process contaminants of public health concern that have undergone or are undergoing safety assessments by risk assessment bodies. Ultimately, the objective would be to incorporate such quantitative exposure estimates into risk assessment to better define the public health risk and support risk management action.

Activity
The review considers how and where process-related contaminants are formed and their potential impact on human health. The current knowledge on urinary, blood and tissue biomarkers for each of the studied contaminants is summarised and, where available, Physiologically-Based Kinetic (PBK) models are also discussed. The potential for endogenous formation of these process contaminants is also considered. Data gaps, for these process contaminants that would need to be addressed in order to provide reliable and reproducible quantitative estimates of exposure via the use of their biomarkers, are identified.

Output
The activity reviewed the existing published data on biomarkers of exposure and proposed an approach to develop and validate biomarkers of dietary exposure to process contaminants with the help of, for example, duplicate diet studies. It develops guidance to aid the design of biomarker studies that can inform risk assessment authorities especially in relation to decisions on the need for risk management measures.

Reactions and Potential Mitigation of Mycotoxins during Food Processing – Completed

Objectives
Mycotoxins are toxic, secondary metabolites produced by fungi that significantly affect the quality, safety and yield of important crops used worldwide for food and feed. Recent evidence suggests that some food production processes lead to the reduction of levels of parent mycotoxins in finished products compared to the corresponding raw materials / ingredients.

Activity
The activity reviewed options to optimise or introduce additional food processing in order to reduce mycotoxin contamination of food and feed. The final goal was to minimise food and feed losses while maximising the safe use of crops.

Expected Output
The publication suggested food processes that can lower or eliminate the (parent) mycotoxins. It also summarised and analysed the data on different decontamination / detoxifying processes from food commodities. Finally, the impact of transformed mycotoxins leading to a lower mycotoxin concentration and a lower toxicity was illustrated and discussed.

Expert Group Members

Workshop − Mineral Oil Risk Assessment: Knowledge Gaps and Roadmap – New
In collaboration with the Packaging Materials Toxins Task Force
The list of Organising Committee members will soon be available

Practical Guidance for Industry on the Use of Food Processing and Detoxification Treatments on Mycotoxin Contamination Report Series – New
The list of editorial team members will soon be available

New Approaches to Exposure Assessment of Process-Related Contaminants in Food by Biomarker Monitoring

Reactions and Potential Mitigation of Mycotoxins during Food Processing – 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.

Read more

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