The EFSA's 6th Scientific Colloquium Report - Risk-benefit analysis of foods: methods and approaches


EFSA Science Colloquia aim to achieve a better understanding of the fundamental scientific issues related to risk assessment of food and feed and are therefore organised in a way to provide ample opportunity for an interactive exchange of expert views. To that end the Science Colloquia are sufficiently informal to allow for substantial debates if needed, however, at the same time, they are adequately structured and managed to enable participants to reach conclusions and make recommendations, as appropriate. The meeting on “Riskbenefit analysis: methods and approaches” was the sixth in the series of Science Colloquia.

The assessment of risk to human health of food substances or nutrients is usually conducted independently of possible health benefits. Furthermore, 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. 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.

 The objectives of the colloquium were:

(i) to have an open debate on scientific approaches and methods available and tools and data needed for conducting a risk-benefit analysis of foods and food components,

(ii) to explore opportunities and limitations for defining a common scale of measurement (common currency) to quantitatively compare risks and benefits;

 (iii) to define further research needs.

We are very pleased with the lively discussions and very constructive contributions by all participants and the outcome of the meeting. Special appreciation is expressed to the Chair and Co-Chair of the Colloquium, the Chairs and Rapporteurs of the various discussion groups and to Iona Pratt and John Christian Larsen who have been so kind as to draft the summary report of the meeting.

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First published in EFSA Supporting Publications
1 July 2007