Joining forces for the replacement of animal studies in food sciences

Background

A lot of debate has surrounded the use of animal studies in nutrition and food safety, especially regarding identifying when they are mandatory and when they can be replaced by alternative methods. There is a global call from regulatory and governmental bodies (e.g. JRC and EFSA) and also from animal welfare stakeholders to ensure that animal testing is reduced and used only when necessary, urging academic and industry laboratories to find alternatives. The development of alternative strategies that avoid animal testing offers new opportunities for assuring food safety, as well as investigating the nutrition and efficacy of foods and ingredients.

Upcoming

A workshop to discuss the outcomes of the first activity on ‘Holistic Approaches to Develop Alternative Strategies That do not Rely on Additional Animal Testing’ will be held in autumn 2018.
The task force is discussing organising a joint session with the New Approaches to Chemical Risk Assessment for Food & Food Ingredients Task Force and ILSI HESI at the Society of Toxicology Congress 2019 (SOT2019).

What’s New

A new expert group on ‘Holistic Approaches to Develop Alternative Strategies That do not Rely on Additional Animal Testing’ has started in April 2017.

Objectives

This transversal task force will:

  • Review the recently developed methods and build a consensus on how and what is needed to reduce animal testing in food and beverage development; and
  • Provide evidence-based science on potential use and limitations of these methods and evaluate potential strategies and approaches that ultimately could replace animal testing across food safety, nutrition and efficacy/health claim development.

The objective is to engage with a unique transversal and multi-stakeholder group to debate and find out alternatives to animal testing in the fields of food safety, nutrition and efficacy studies.

Expected Impact

The anticipated impact will be substantial for all both public and private stakeholders to foster a change in attitude across the food industry and authorities towards non-animal approaches, reducing the use of animal tests in food and beverage development. The project will help to balance the need for reliable data with the urge to adapt food safety, nutrition and efficacy studies to modern methods and alternative strategies.

For more detailed information, please contact Dr Lucie Geurts at lgeurts@ilsieurope.be.

Task Force Members

Expert Groups

Holistic Approaches to Develop Alternative Strategies that do not Rely on Additional Animal Testing

Background

During the last decade, a shift in the mind-set of experts in toxicology and related sciences has been noticeable towards a science which is no longer only based on deterministic whole-animal approaches. The different stakeholders in nutrition and food safety are however currently not aligned on when animal studies are mandatory or when they can be replaced by alternative approaches.

Objectives

This first activity intends to cover food safety (toxicology), efficacy studies and nutrition. Through a holistic approach, it aims to identify existing approaches that can be applied to the current regulatory frameworks that continue to address the scientific question at hand, whilst avoiding the use of animals. Where possible, case studies involving applied tools should be used as examples.

Activity

This activity will be built around the following points:

  • Look into food safety, efficacy and nutritional regulations and summarise these existing regulations (including genetically modified crops, novel foods, nutritional claims etc);
  • Develop an overview of the existing tools or methodologies that could be applied to food safety, nutrition and efficacy assessments and do not involve animal testing;
  • Verify whether these tools and methodologies can be applied to the current regulations in food safety and nutrition.

Expected Output

This project will identify existing tools and approaches which are not reliant on generating data in animals to address those requirements. The results of this activity are expected to be shared with a wider panel of experts through a workshop before submission to a peer-reviewed journal. Case studies would be introduced as well as a roadmap for future situations.

Expert Group Members

Holistic Approaches to Develop Alternative Strategies That do not Rely on Additional Animal Testing