We are doing science for policy
The Joint Research Centre (JRC) is the European Commission's science and knowledge service which employs scientists to carry out research in order to provide independent scientific advice and support to EU policy.
On 9 December 2013, the JRC launched FACET, a Flavourings, Additives, and food Contact materials Exposure Tool consisting of a downloadable programme to estimate the EU consumers' exposure to these substances. FACET contains databases of chemical concentrations for flavourings and additives, industry data on retail packaging composition, chemical occurrence data or their prediction, and food consumption diaries, which are then combined into probabilistic dietary exposure models.
This tool can be used to measure how different population groups (age, gender, people staying loyal to a given brand, or changing products) are exposed to different types of food additives, flavourings or packaging substances. It also provides the option to compare exposure to specific types of foods (containing different flavouring agents for example) or packaging (for example cans versus jars), or to all types of foods in which a given chemical could be present. This allows the so-called ‘drivers of exposure’ to be pin-pointed: for example preserved foods like fish in oil can be found more often in jars in Nordic countries compared to cans in other countries, so the exposure of different populations to different types of packaging and therefore to their constituents may be different.
In addition, FACET can also be used by industry to investigate the impact on their trade from changes in the usage pattern of different food products containing different additives, flavourings, or packaging, and even to explore the impact of introducing new substances on the market, which can help develop new products (additives, flavourings) or new packaging.
FACET will help to protect the consumer by reducing the current uncertainties in exposure related to flavourings, additives and food contact materials. It can also lead to fostering innovation in the food chain. Exploring changes in the use levels or patterns of existing substances along with the exposure to new flavourings, additives or food contact materials, could for example result in better food preservation, enhanced qualities over a longer shelf life, etc. The tool will also be able to support international foods regulations in the future through focused risk assessments by using models which trace the margins of uncertainty.