Knowledge Based Bio-Economy


Flavours, additives and food contact material exposure task (Food Quality and Safety)

Project acronym: FACET

Title of project: Flavours, additives and food contact material exposure task

Research area: Food Quality and Safety

Contract No: 211686

EU contribution: €5 886 105

Start date: September 2008

Duration: 48 months

Status: finalised

Background: The original concept behind FACET was the creation of a food chemical exposure surveillance system, sustainable beyond the life of the project to meet the needs of EU regulatory authorities in the protection of consumer health. At the outset, there were a number of bottlenecks in exposure assessment. These included access to national food consumption databases, difficulty with food categorization, limited knowledge on food chemical occurrence, lack of data on food chemical concentration and on packaging substances. FACET was designed to address all of these issues with regard to the specific concerns of flavourings, food additives and food contact materials.

Main Results: The major achievement of FACET has been the creation of a publicly available exposure assessment software system. Validated software for deterministic and probabilistic modelling of food chemical intake has been developed. Additional important developments in the project include the establishment of a migration modelling framework for packaging materials into foods, the construction of a tiered food intake database with an integrated harmonized food categorization system and the collection of extensive concentration data for additives, flavourings and food packaging migratory compounds. For flavourings, a total of 41 substances were selected. Concentration data were also collected for natural occurrence of the target substances. Furthermore, analytical investigations for certain flavouring substances in foods have been conducted. In relation to food additives, 32 priority additives were established by the additives and industry questionnaires for providing additives usage levels were developed. Criteria for these priority additives included high risk additives (additives for which the theoretical estimated intake is higher than the ADI in the first approach), additives with or without ADI, additives used quantum satis or with maximum levels, and certain target additives selected or who had their ADI recently modified. For food packaging, data collection on the chemical composition of food packaging materials along with information on the extent and conditions of use was undertaken. The inventory list contains 6,475 substances that are either single substances or are defined or non-defined mixtures of two or more substances. A new in silico QSAR approach has been developed, validated and used to evaluate the toxicological significance of exposure to packaging substances. Expected impact: FACET will constitute a perfect tool for post market monitoring since it reflects the real exposure of a targeted population to a food chemical, taking into account the variability of concentration and the real occurrence for each food category. The overall impact of FACET will be evident at a number of levels including protection of the consumer, fostering innovation in the food chain, driving the scientific approach, influencing international food regulatory affairs and through a focused risk management approach.

Website of project:

Coordinator: Prof. Michael J. Gibney -

Organisation: University College Dublin, UCD Institute of Food & Health, Agriculture & Food Science Centre, (Ireland)