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Risk‐Benefit Assessment of Foods



Food is an elementary requirement for human life, providing nutrients and essential energy needed for optimal health. But at the same time, food can also be a vehicle of hazardous substances or pathogens that could affect human health negatively. Risk‐benefit assessment (RBA) of foods, a relatively new methodology for decision support, integrates nutrition, toxicology, microbiology, chemistry and human epidemiology for a comprehensive health impact assessment. By integrating health risks and benefits related to food consumption, RBA facilitates science‐based decision‐making in food‐related areas and the development of policies and consumer advice. The present work programme aimed to allow the fellow to become acquainted with the process of RBA and the associated tools needed to assess quantitatively the risks and the benefits through three main activities (i) to learn the different methodologies used for RBA; (ii) to apply these methodologies to a specific case‐study – RBA of raw milk consumption; and (iii) to participate in the main activities of the Risk‐Benefit research group at DTU Food regarding risk‐benefit issues. For the RBA of raw milk consumption, microbiological pathogens (Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella spp., Campylobacter jejuni and Shiga toxin‐producing Escherichia coli), probiotic bacteria and nutritional components (vitamins B2 and A) were considered, as well as the potential impact of raw milk consumption in the reduction of the allergies’ prevalence. Two major approaches were applied: the bottom‐up (estimating the disease incidence due to the exposure) and the top‐down (using epidemiological and incidence data to the estimate the number of cases attributable to a certain exposure). Through all the training and hands‐on activities performed, the present work programme enabled the fellow to extend the knowledge on the quantitative RBA, specifically in the context of raw milk consumption. EU‐FORA programme also provided an exceptional opportunity of networking and establishment of future research lines of collaboration.