EU food agency opens debate on common risks-benefit analysis

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Nutrition, Scientific method, European food safety authority

Europe's food safety agency will begin a debate with processors on
formulating a common standard for assessing the health risks and
benefits posed by their products.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) will hold a two-day colloquium on the risk-benefit analysis of foods beginning 13 July in Tabiano, Italy.

Currently, there is no agreement on general principles or approaches for conducting a quantitative risk-benefit analysis for food and food ingredients. This means that regulators may use different standards when assessing whether the benefits of a food processing technique or an ingredient may outweigh its health risks.

The assessment of risk to human health of food substances or nutrients is usually conducted independently of possible health benefits, EFSA stated. Different scientific approaches are used to estimate health risks and health benefits of foods, food ingredients and nutrients.

"When a food or food substance is associated with both potential health risks and benefits, and particularly when the levels of intake associated with risk and benefit are close, there is a need to define an intake range within which the balance of risk and benefit is acceptable for risk management purposes,"​ the regulator stated. "However there is currently no agreement on the general principles or approaches for conducting a quantitative risk-benefit analysis for food and food ingredients. One of the main challenges of such an exercise is to define a common scale of measurement for comparing the risks and the benefits."

EFSA is using the meeting to have an open debate on the available scientific methods and the data needed to conduct a risk-benefit analysis of foods and food ingredients. The process will look at the opportunities and limitations in defining a common scale of measurement to compare risks and benefits on a quantitative basis.

"This program will be relevant for experts in the area of nutrition and toxicology, particularly those with expertise in quantitative benefit assessment and risk assessment,"​ EFSA stated.

The regulator is looking for participation from experts from the academic, regulatory and private sector. Participation will be limited to 80 experts, and can be submitted at EFSA's Internet site​.

Related topics: Regulation & Safety

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