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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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N


Natural or manufactured material which contains miniscule single units typically measuring between 1 and 100 nanometers. A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter (a human hair is 80,000-100,000 nanometers wide).

The study of nanomaterials.

Any adverse effect on the nervous system (e.g. paralysis or loss of function) that results from exposure to potentially toxic substances.

The difference between nitrogen intake from the diet (mainly from proteins) and the amount of nitrogen lost in body waste (e.g. faeces).

The non-monotonic dose-response curve (NMDRC) is a complex relationship between the dose of a substance and its effect, such that instead of a certain response simply increasing or decreasing with dose, the curve may be for example "U" shaped.

The greatest concentration or amount of a substance at which no detectable adverse effects occur in an exposed population.

The no observed adverse effect level (NOAEL) is the greatest concentration or amount of a substance at which no detectable adverse effects occur in an exposed population.

A complex relationship between the dose of a substance and its effect, such that instead of a certain response simply increasing or decreasing with dose, the curve may be for example "U" shaped.

Foodstuff or food ingredient that was not used for human consumption to a significant degree within the European Union before 15 May 1997.

An element or compound needed for normal growth, development and health maintenance. Essential nutrients cannot be made by the body and must, therefore, be consumed from food.

The science of how diet relates to the body's need for sustenance.

A statement that implies that a foodstuff has beneficial nutritional properties, such as being “low fat” or “high in fibre”.

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