Modified Reference Point Index (mRPI) and a decision tree for deriving uncertainty factors: A practical approach to cumulative risk assessment of food contaminant mixtures
Risk assessment of chemical mixtures remains a challenging task in all areas of food and consumer safety. So far, no general method has been developed that is best suited to several subject areas (e.g. food contaminants, additives and supplements, plant protection products). Especially for mixtures of food contaminants sophisticated methods are typically not applicable due to a general lack of complete toxicological data sets.
We developed a new approach, the modified Reference Point Index (mRPI), that combines the advantages of the Hazard Index and the Reference Point Index. Furthermore, we developed a decision tree for the determination of specific uncertainty factors that makes the mRPI an easy to use method for cumulative risk assessment even in a data poor field such as food contaminants. To further characterise the estimated cumulative risks, the Maximum Cumulative Ratio (MCR) was adapted to be applied on the mRPI, and the modified Maximum Cumulative Ratio (mMCR) was established to identify whether the risks are dominated by a single substance.
We present two case studies assessing the nephrotoxic and neurotoxic risks for the Austrian population originating from food contaminant mixtures. Calculations could not rule out potential cumulative risks, yet, they seemed to be dominated by single substances.
risk assessment EU contaminants AGES
EFSA issues new advice on phosphates in foods
Phosphates are essential nutrients (a form of phosphorus), which are present naturally in the human body and are an essential part of our diet. A group of substances commonly referred to as “phosphates” are authorised as food additives in the European Union.
They are added to a wide range of foods for “technological” functions and appear on labels as "emulsifiers", "antioxidants".
Some of them can and may be used in foods for infants and young children.
First ‘combined’ safe intake for phosphates
a spokesperson said: “The panel has re-assessed the safety of phosphates and derived, for the first time, a group acceptable daily intake [ADI] of 40 milligrams per kilogram of body weight [mg/kg bw] per day. “Because phosphates are also nutrients and essential to our diets, in our approach we defined an ADI which considers the likely phosphorus intake from various sources, including natural sources and food additives.”
The ADI corresponds to an intake of 2.8 grams of phosphorus per day for an average adult weighing 70kg.
EFSA stated further: “Importantly, the ADI does not apply to people with moderate to severe reduction in kidney function, which is considered a vulnerable population group. This conclusion is based on the recognised effect of high phosphate intake on the kidney.”
Assessing dietary exposure
Dietary exposure was calculated from the total amount of phosphorus from all dietary sources and not limited to the levels in food additives reported by manufacturers. The experts estimated that food additives indicatively contribute between 6 to 30% of the total average intake of phosphorus.
EFSA: “We estimated that dietary exposure to phosphates may exceed the new ADI for infants, toddlers and children with average consumption of phosphates in their diet. This is also the case for adolescents whose diet is high in phosphates.”
“The data we had did not give rise to safety concerns in infants below 16 weeks of age consuming formula and food for medical purposes containing phosphates.”
Existing maximum permitted levels of these additives in food range from 500 to 20,000 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg) of food depending on the food type.
EFSA’s scientific advice will inform risk managers in the European Commission and Member States who regulate the safe use of phosphates as food additives in the EU.
regulations HACCP foodsafety EU EFSA
OVER €100 MILLION WORTH OF FAKE FOOD AND DRINKS SEIZED IN LATEST EUROPOL-INTERPOL OPERATION
More than €100 million worth of potentially dangerous food and drinks was seized in the latest Operation OPSON, coordinated by Europol’s Intellectual Property Crime Coordination Centre and INTERPOL. 672 individuals were arrested so far, with investigations ongoing in many countries.
Police, customs, national food regulatory authorities and private sector partners across 78 countries* took part in the five-month OPSON VIII operation which ran from December 2018 through April 2019.
In total, some 16 000 tonnes and 33 million litres of potentially dangerous fake food and drink was seized as a result of more than 67 000 checks carried out at shops, markets, airports, seaports and industrial estates.
official controls inspectors foodsafety europol europe EU
EU food safety system overstretched, say EU Auditors
Although the EU’s system for protecting consumers from chemical hazards in food is soundly based and respected worldwide, it is currently overstretched, according to a new report from the European Court of Auditors. The European Commission and the Member States do not have the capacity to implement the system fully, the auditors say.
EU food safety policy aims to guarantee a high level of protection for human life and health, and to protect EU citizens from three types of hazards in food: physical, biological and chemical. This audit concentrated on chemical hazards in food.
The auditors found that the EU food safety model commands respect worldwide, but that it is currently overstretched. The legal framework governing chemicals in food, feed, and plants and live animals remains a work in progress, they say, and has not yet been implemented to the level envisaged in EU laws governing food production. In addition, the European Food Safety Authority, which provides scientific advice to inform European policymaking, suffers backlogs in its work in connection with chemical hazards. This affects the proper functioning of parts of the system and the sustainability of the model as a whole.
official controls inspectors foodsafety europe EU
Simplified approach to make food donations to foodbanks easier
EFSA has developed a new food safety management approach that makes it simpler for small retailers to donate food.
The simplified system would mean that retailers are not required to have detailed knowledge of specific hazards. It includes steps for checking that donated food is safe, such as shelf-life control, maintenance of the cold chain and ensuring communication between the donor and recipients.
Under the new system, retailers need only to be aware that biological, chemical and physical hazards or allergens may be present and that a failure to undertake key control activities – such as separation of raw from cooked products – could pose a risk to consumers. The approach is intended for food distribution centres, supermarkets, pubs, restaurants and other small retailers.
official controls HACCP food waste food donations. food banks europe EU