Improving scientific knowledge on food contaminants to ensure safer products
Task Force Information
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
* Scientific Advisors
For more detailed information, please contact Konrad Korzeniowski at firstname.lastname@example.org or Belinda Antonio at email@example.com
Update on Risk-Benefit Assessment of foods: approaches to facilitate application - Ongoing -
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 based on both public health risk and mitigation efficacy - Upcoming -
An expert group on prioritisation of natural toxins for risk management action will kick-off end of 2022. This activity will establish a framework for the prioritisation of natural toxins in foods following a risk-based approach.
New activity on the definition of Food Contaminants - Upcoming -
This activity aims to gather and combine definitions of food contaminants and organise a workshop with a publication as an output.
- Upcoming -
Early career scientists’ event will take place in the Q1 of 2023
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.
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
Z to A
The Role of Hazard- and Risk-Based Approaches in Ensuring Food Safety
The role of endogenous versus exogenous sources in the exposome of putative genotoxins and consequences for risk assessment
Archives of Toxicology, 2022
Commissioned by the Food Contaminants Task Force.
Practical Guidance to Mitigation of Mycotoxins During Food Processing
ILSI Europe Report Series, 2019
Commissioned by the Food Contaminants Task Force.
Ochratoxin A in Food: Recent Developments and Significance
Food Additives and Contaminants. 2005;22(1):1-107.
Mineral oil risk assessment: Knowledge gaps and roadmap. Outcome of a multi-stakeholders workshop
Trends in Food Science & Technology, 2021
Commissioned by the Process-Related Compounds & Natural Toxins and the Packaging Materials Task Forces.
- the lack of validated and standardized analytical methods for relevant food matrices, and
- gaps in assessing the risk for consumers' health.
The consensus is that the lack of standardized, validated analytical methods able to assure good inter-laboratory reproducibility is the main gap underlining most of the existing difficulties to understand MOH.
In order to conduct adequate substance identification and quantification for input into risk assessment, the need for confirmatory methods that provide a detailed characterization of the unresolved complex mixtures needs to be solved.
The limited number of surveys covering a wide range of foods and enough samples to detect major sources of contamination other than packaging in paperboard also hinders reliable exposure estimation.
Decision tree to identify auxilary methods. (Adapted from Bratinova & Hoekstra, 2019)
Industry sectors represented in the workshop
- Food & Drink
- Mineral Oil/Waxes
- Testing Laboratories
- Analytical Instruments
- Food Contact Materials
Read the full-text article hereScientific abstract Expand Background
In recent years there have been significant advancements in the understanding of mineral oil hydrocarbons (MOH) in foods and their potential risk to health. However, important gaps in knowledge remain, such as the lack of validated and standardized analytical methods for relevant food matrices and gaps in assessing the risk for consumers' health. Scope & approach
A workshop was organized by the European Branch of the International Life Science Institute to identify knowledge gaps in analytical methods, assessment of exposure, hazard characterisation, and risk assessment of MOH. This work captures the outcome of the workshop and builds upon it by combining the perspectives of the participants with an updated review of the literature to provide a roadmap for future management of the topic. Key findings and conclusions
Most participants to the workshop agreed that the key issue underlying many of the knowledge gaps in the field of MOH risk analysis and management is the lack of standardized, validated analytical methods able to assure good inter-laboratory reproducibility and to enable understanding of MOH occurrence in foods. It has been demonstrated that method EN 16995 used for MOH determination in vegetable oils and fats is not reliable below 10 mg/kg of food. There is also a need for confirmatory methods that provide a detailed characterization of the unresolved complex mixture observed from one-dimensional chromatographic methods. This is required to enable adequate substance identification and quantification for input into risk assessment. A major gap in the exposure estimation is the limited number of surveys covering a wide range of foods and enough samples to detect major sources of contamination other than packaging in paperboard. Data on concentration of MOH fractions in human body needed to determine internal exposure estimates is scarce. Data relating concentration in tissues with personal data, lifestyle, food intake and the use of cosmetics are needed to clarify the complex system of distribution of MOSH in the body and to possibly establish relationship between external and internal exposure. Additional toxicological studies to better characterize the hazards of relevant MOH are required for a better human health risk assessment. Keywords Expand
Mineral oil hydrocarbon, Risk assessment, Exposure assessment, Food contaminant, MOSH, MOAHNumber of participants in the workshop 61 from Academica, Public organisations, and Industry. EN 16995 used for MOH determination in vegetable oils and fats is not reliable below 10 mg/kg of food. Main indetified gaps in the knowledge of Mineral Oil Hydrocarbons 8
To enable human risk assessment, the performance of toxicological studies on the relevant MOH mixtures and possibly their components is required.
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‘Mycotoxin Prevention and Control: Food Processing Mitigation Strategies’
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Click here to watch the Podcast on 'Dietary Exposure Mitigation to Chemical Contaminants'
Completed Expert Groups
Overview of completed activities since 2021
Process-Related Contaminants as an Example for Holistic Dosimetry of Endogenous and Exogenous Exposures
Mineral Oil Risk Assessment: Knowledge Gaps and Roadmap (collaboration with Packaging Materials Task Force)