A systematic procedure for the identification of emerging chemical risks in the food and feed chain

First published in the EFSA Journal
30 January 2014
18 December 2013
Last Updated
1 April 2014
Technical Report Post 11

This technical report presents a systematic framework for the identification of emerging chemical risks occurring in the food and feed chain with a likely direct or indirect impact on human, animal and/or plant health within the EFSA’s remit. Such risks may arise from intentionally and non-intentionally produced industrial chemicals, as well as certain natural contaminants that may be transferred to the food/feed chain through the environment. The proposed framework uses a variety of data sources as an input, relating to, for example, industrial chemicals, environmental occurrence of chemical contaminants, as well as software models that can be used to predict the environmental behaviour and potential toxicity of chemical substances from their structural features and physico-chemical properties. The procedure consists of a multi-step selection process that starts with a list of chemicals to which a sequence of selection criteria is applied to identify the substances of potential concern. The selection criteria take into account a number of parameters such as volumes of production or import, persistence in the environment, potential for bioaccumulation, dispersive uses, toxicity, and any available outcomes of risk assessments. The procedure has two main entry points either for industrial chemicals registered under REACH Regulation or for substances consistently detected in the environment with a subset of more specific entry points depending on specific objectives and relevant data availability. The procedure proposed in this report needs to be tested and further developed using specific examples of chemical substances, preferably through a pilot project. The results of the pilot project should inform on additional activities that might be needed for further refinement of the proposed approach. This iterative process will provide a basis for a proactive approach to understanding emerging risks from materials, products, and applications of the continually evolving scientific and technological developments.

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