Food Contaminants

Food Contaminants

Improving scientific knowledge on food contaminants to ensure safer products

Task Force Information

Objectives and list of Task Force
members

Contact Information

Contact details in case you have specific questions

Activity Overview

Overview of ongoing and upcoming activities

Expert Groups

Objectives, output and list of experts involved in each activity

Publications

List of publications of this
Task Force

Multimedia

Links to Task Force related documents, recordings and much more...

Completed Expert Groups

Details including experts involved of each activity

Task Force Information

Objectives

As food contaminants poses a threat to consumers’ health, it is crucial to improve our knowledge about them. As such, the Food Contaminants Task Force.

  • Advance scientific knowledge on food contaminants – process-related contaminants, natural toxins, and other environmental contaminants – particularly focusing on assessing impacts on human health
  • Address research gaps in toxicity, exposure, and analytical aspects of food contaminants
  • Review & evaluate mitigation measures and support for risk management strategies for food contaminants.

Task Force Members

WP DataTables

* Scientific Advisors

Contact Information

For more detailed information, please contact Konrad Korzeniowski at kkorzeniowski@ilsieurope.be

Activity Overview

Ongoing

- Risk-Benefit Assessment 

An expert group on risk-benefits assessment of foods explores the reasons for limited application and seek practical solutions to increase the utility of this methodology in foods.

- Prioritisation of natural toxins for risk management action

The Expert Group establishes a framework to prioritise natural toxins in foods following a risk-based approach. Based on the evidence and scale of risk to consumers, and the potential for risk mitigation, the framework will enable the differentiation between mycotoxins or phytotoxins where risk management action is both warranted and likely to be effective based on available evidence, and highlight potential knowledge gaps.

Start date: Nov 2022 | End date: Nov 2024

- Food contaminant definitions

The Expert Group focuses on existing definitions, their clarity and consistency. This activity un-picks the perceptual underpinning of those different definitions, the key parameters that drive them and the different stakeholders who use them. It identifies the possibility to consolidate a global definition of ‘food contaminant’ and exploresthe value of using the above understanding as a communication tool with food chain stakeholders.

Start date: Feb 2023 | End date: Feb 2024

Upcoming

- Early Career Scientist Seminar

A seminar for Early Career Scientists will take place in Q1 2025. Find more info here.

Expert Groups

Update on Risk-Benefit Assessment of foods: approaches to facilitate application

Background and Objectives

All foods contain chemical and biological impurities some of which may be viewed as contaminants of toxicological or microbiological relevance, depending on the definition used. Classical risk assessment does not reconcile the benefit to health of the food against the potential effects of the contaminants or the impact of mitigation measures that may be applied to reduce contaminants. A contaminant-centric view of a food can result in an incomplete understanding of the net health benefits of food by groups such as policy makers.

As such, methods for the comparison between benefits and risks have been developed, including the publication of guidance materials. Despite the availability of guidance, there have been a limited number of examples of risk-benefit analysis being used as an input for the risk management of foods by food safety agencies.

Output

This activity will review the evolution and application of risk-benefit assessment since its infancy, and thereby understand:

- Why risk-benefit assessment has not been more widely applied by food safety agencies in Europe?
- What are the available applications of RBA since the publication of guidance and what are the lessons learned?
- Whether existing guidance can be amended to improve applicability?
- The above learnings will be tested via a limited number of worked examples and summarized in a peer-reviewed publication.

Expert Group Members

 

WP DataTables

Approaches to Facilitiate Application Prioritisation of Natural Toxins for Risk Management

Background and objectives

In its simplest form, risk is the product of hazard (i.e., toxic potency of a chemical) and exposure (or dose). ‘’Hazard-based’’ decision-making is based solely on hazard without any consideration of exposure. The development of mitigation strategies should prioritize mycotoxins that regularly occur at undesirable levels in commonly consumed commodities, wherein both the toxicological profiles and effectiveness of mitigation are understood with a reasonable degree of certainty. The ultimate goal of mycotoxin mitigation is to prevent adverse health effects caused by foodborne exposure to mycotoxins while reserving nutritional and organoleptic quality of food. Based on the evidence and scale of risk to consumers, and the potential for risk mitigation, the framework will enable the differentiation between mycotoxins or phytotoxins where risk management action is both warranted and likely to be effective based on available evidence. Through case-studies, this framework will also highlight potential knowledge gaps.

Output

This activity will establish a framework for the prioritization of natural toxins found in food following a risk-based approach (Decision Tree). Based on the evidence and scale of risk to consumers, and the potential for risk mitigation, the framework will enable the differentiation between mycotoxins or phytotoxins where risk management action is both warranted and likely to be effective based on available evidence. Through case-studies, this framework will also highlight potential knowledge gaps.

Expert Group Members

WP DataTables

Food Contaminants Definitions

Background and Objectives

Chemical contaminants are a major focus of risk assessment and management, however there is no common definition of what constitutes a ‘food contaminant’. It is not clear which substances fall into scope of being considered a ‘food contaminant’, and it is not clear what criteria define a substance to be a ‘food contaminant’. As such there is confusion between stakeholders when there is any communication on the subject of ‘food contaminant’. As communication between stakeholders about food contaminants is frequent, there is a pressing need to explore understanding amongst stakeholders and seek clarity on how the term should be defined and therefore used. Activity will un pick the perceptual underpinning of those different definitions, the key parameters that drive them and the different stakeholders that use them. Moreover, identify if it is possible to consolidate a global definition of ‘food contaminant’ and explore the value of using the above understanding as a communication tool with food chain stakeholders.

Output

Overall, the research would provide a comprehensive understanding of the diverse definitions of ‘food contaminant’ among stakeholders, examine the factors influencing these definitions, evaluate the possibility of achieving a global definition, and highlight the potential benefits of using this understanding as a communication tool with stakeholders in the food chain.

Expert Group Members

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Publications

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Multimedia

Introductory video

One-Pager

Completed Expert Groups