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Glossary

This multilingual glossary provides easy-to-understand definitions for the main scientific terms used on this website in the risk assessment domain. Terms and their definitions are referenced in our communication products as pop-up notes to explain concepts to the public with no specialist knowledge.
Standard English spelling is used throughout. Acronyms are capitalised. Terms are presented in lower case. Entries are translated into French, German, Italian and Spanish.
The glossary is a living document subject to regular updates. Relevant missing terms may be suggested by using the Ask A Question online form.

Disclaimer: Definitions in the glossary are intended solely to help this website's users understand scientific terminology. Definitions may differ from those given in European Union legislation and in the EFSA Journal.

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An estimate of the amount of a substance in food or drinking water that can be consumed daily over a lifetime without presenting an appreciable risk to health. It is usually expressed as milligrams of the substance per kilogram of body weight per day and applies to chemical substances such as food additives, pesticide residues and veterinary drugs.

A substance that acts against harmful organisms, such as pests or diseases, which affect plants.

A one-off or very short term exposure to a substance, usually less than 24 hours.

A dietary recommendation used when there isn't enough data to calculate an average requirement. An adequate intake is the average nutrient level consumed daily by a typical healthy population that is assumed to be adequate for the population's needs.

The acceptable daily intake (ADI) is an estimate of the amount of a substance in food or drinking water that can be consumed daily over a lifetime without presenting an appreciable risk to health. It is usually expressed as milligrams of the substance per kilogram of body weight and applies to chemical substances such as food additives, pesticide residues and veterinary drugs.

An abbreviation for "absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion", the four key processes which describe how drugs and chemicals get into the body, what happens to them while they are there, and how they are eliminated

A change in the health, growth, behaviour or development of an organism that impairs its ability to develop or survive

A method of visualising a chain of events linked by causality that may lead to a harmful outcome for organisms or the environment.

The adequate intake (AI) is a dietary recommendation used when there isn't enough data to calculate an Average Requirement. An AI is the average nutrient level consumed daily by a typical healthy population which is assumed to be adequate for the population's needs.

A normally harmless substance, such as an ingredient in a foodstuff, that causes an (immediate) allergic reaction in a susceptible person.

The ability to trigger an abnormal immune response that leads to an allergic reaction in a person.

A method which can be used in research to replace traditional animal testing with non-invasive methods or substitution. See also replacement, reduction and refinement (3Rs).

The constituent block that makes up proteins. Some can be produced by the human body whereas others can be obtained only through the diet.

A technique used to make an exact genetic copy of an animal.

A method involving animals or animal cells that tests how a substance or diet might cause ill-health in humans.

Standardised ways of assessing animal welfare based on animal responses.

Describes a substance that acts in opposition to another substance, thus cancelling out its effect; for example, a hormone that, when released in the body, prevents another hormone from working.

The ability of microbes to grow in the presence of substances specifically designed to kill them; for example, some human infections are now resistant to antibiotics, raising concerns about their widespread use.

A field of science which studies the impact of toxic substances on water life (e.g. fish, crustaceans, aquatic plants and algae).

The average requirement (AR) is the level of a nutrient in the diet that meets the daily needs of half the people in a typical healthy population.

The level of a nutrient in the diet that meets the daily needs of half the people in a typical healthy population.

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