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Food safety in Europe: Risk assessment of chemicals in food and diet

Contract number : QLK1-1999-00156
Contract type : Concerted Action
Total cost : € 754.000
EC contribution : € 754.000
Starting date : 1/01/2000
Duration : 36 Months
Scientific Officer : Achim Boenke
Project website :
Kleiner Juliane
International Life Sciences Institute
European Branch
Avenue E. Mounier 93 Box 6
1200 Brussels
Tel.: +31-2-7710014
Fax: +31-2-7620044
E-mail: juliane @

The safety of our food supply is a shared responsibility, from farm to fork, of the food producing industry, regulatory authorities and consumers. As part of this safety assurance it is essential to assess the potential risks posed by food and food ingredients. Consequently, the risk assessment process has to be based on sound scientific data and performed at internationally agreed standards in a transparent manner. The traditional risk assessment process applied successfully to food additives relies on toxicology testing in animals at intake levels many times higher than is likely in humans. Extrapolation of the data to determine the safe level for man is performed by employing safety (or uncertainty) factors. Such an approach does not assess quantitatively the relationship between exposure and adverse health effects and cannot effectively deal with novel foods and macro-ingredients with high levels of intake in the human diet. Therefore, new and harmonised approaches are needed which can also take account of the latest scientific advances and to generate suitable possible solutions also to the various on-going current activities in different international working groups and scientific committees such as the EC, Scientific Steering of the European Commission in the Consumer Protection Directorate General.


The project will focus on the following objectives:

  • To carry out a detailed state-of-the-art appraisal of all stages involved in risk assessment and seek to integrate these in the most relevant manner for assessing risk using a matrix approach;
  • to explore means of improving the principles applied to, and scientific basis of, risk assessment with respect to natural toxicants, food additives and contaminants in the food chain, including possible interactions between individual chemicals and effects of the food matrix;
  • to identify gaps in knowledge that might lead to differences in interpretation of toxicological and exposure data, and the research need to reduce these;
  • to determine the nature and level of testing needed for safety evaluation relevant to the nature of the chemical, level of use/occurrence in the diet and human exposure (including novel foods and processes, nutritional supplements);
  • to add a European contribution to international initiatives to harmonise principles, terminology and methodology for risk assessment;
  • to contribute towards a consensus on risk assessment issues that is scientifically transparent and justifiable;
  • to assist risk managers in developing appropriate, defensible food standards that adequately protect the safety of the consumer whilst allowing for innovation in food production and processing.
(expected) Results and achievements

Early 2000, the Project Steering Committee established the First Plenary Meeting programme. In April 2000, the first Plenary Meeting was held to gather all participants in the project to set up a European multidisciplinary network. The project is addressed by Individual Theme Groups (ITGs) on 'In-vitro Toxicology' (A), 'Animal based Toxicology' (B), 'Mathematical Modelling' (C), 'Biologically based modelling' (D), 'Intake Assessment' (E) and 'Epidemiology' (F). The main objectives of the first Plenary meeting were (i) to review and agree on a proposed work programme, including scientific issues to be addressed, (ii) agree on the terms of reference and responsibilities of the ITGs and (iii) agree on the final composition of the ITGs including respective chairmen. From July 2000 to January 2001, ITG A-F had 2 to 3 meetings to draft ITG reports. These reports will be reviewed by the Project Steering committee before being reviewed by the Second Plenary meeting in June 2001.


University of Kaiserslautern
Food Chemistry / Environmental Toxicology
Erwin-Schrödinger Straße
PO Box 3049
67663 Kaiserslautern
Reseach Institute for Toxicology
Yalelaan 2
PO Box 80176
3508 TD Utrecht
The Netherlands
Department of Food Safety and Health
Bornsesteeg 45
PO Box 230
6708 PD Wageningen
The Netherlands
Procter & Gamble European Service GmbH
Industriestraße 32-34
65760 Eschborn/Ts.
Unilever Research Laboratory Vlaardingen
Olivier van Noortlaan, 120
3133 AT Vlaardingen
The Netherlands
Nestlé Research Centre
P.O.Box 44
1000 Lausanne 26
University of Surrey
School of Biological Sciences
GU2 5XH Surrey
United Kingdom
Coca-Cola West Europe
1424 Chaussée de Mons
1070 Brussels
Südzucker AG
Zentralabteilung Forschung, Entwicklung und Services
Wormser Straße 11
PO Box 1127
67283 Obrigheim
Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd.
Human Nutrition and Health, Safety, Toxicology
Building 72/049A
4070 Basel
Danone Vitapole
Centre Internationale Recherche "Daniel Carasso"
15 Avenue Galilée
92350 Le Plessis-Robinson
Dr Susan Barlow
8 Harrington Road - Brighton
BN1 6RE East Sussex
United Kingdom
Bureau Européen des Unions de Consommateurs
Avenue de Tervuren 36, bte 4
1040 Brussels
Statens Livsmedelsverk
National Food Administration
Toxicology Division
PO Box 622
75126 Uppsala
Astrazeneca Plc
Central Toxicology Laboratory
Alderley Park
SK10 4TJ Macclesfield Cheshire
United Kingdom
Toxicology Excellence for Risk Assessment
1757 Chase Avenue
45223 Cincinnati, Ohio
United States
National Institute of Public Health
Department of Environmental Medecine
PO Box 4404
0403 Oslo
Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum
Zentrale Einheit Biostatistik R 0700
Im Neuenheimer Feld 280
PO Box 101949
69009 Heidelberg
University of Milano
Department of Pharmacological Sciences
Via G.Balzaretti 9
20133 Milan
TNO Nutrition and Food Reseach Institute
Department of Consumer Reseach and Epidemiology
Utrechtseweg 48
PO Box 360
3700 AJ Zeist
The Netherlands
Danish Veterinary and Food Administration
Institute of Food Safety and Toxicology
19 Mørkhoej Bygade
2860 Søborg
Coca-Cola Nordic & Baltics
Fabriksparken 7-9
2600 Glostrup
Medical Reseach Council
Institute for Environment and Health
University of Leicester
94 Regent Road
LE1 7DD Leicester
United Kingdom
Université de Bourgogne
Department of Food Toxicology
1, Esplanade Erasme
21000 Dijon
Central Science Laboratory
YO41 1LZ Sand Hutton, York
United Kingdom
Maastricht University
Department of Epidemiology
P.O.Box 616
6200 MD Maastricht
The Netherlands

Fifth Framework Programme

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