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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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T


Section of the healthy population defined by a specified age range and gender. Because of their particular physiological status, pregnant and lactating women are specific target populations.

The tolerable daily intake (TDI) is an estimate of the amount of a substance in food or drinking water which is not added deliberately (e.g contaminants) and which can be consumed over a lifetime without presenting an appreciable risk to health. 

A dose or exposure below which adverse effects are not detected.

A screening tool that provides conservative  exposure limits in the absence of sufficient chemical-specific toxicological data. It is a science-based approach for prioritising chemicals with low-level exposures that require more data over those that can be presumed to present no appreciable human health risk.

A way of organising toxicology assessments to maximise efficiency and minimise the use of animals. It involves a hierarchy (tiers) of tests, starting with those that use existing information or simple biological methods before moving onto tests using cells and eventually live animals only as necessary.

An estimate of the amount of a substance in food or drinking water which is not added deliberately (e.g contaminants) and which can be consumed over a lifetime without presenting an appreciable risk to health. 

The maximum intake of substances in food, such as nutrients or contaminants, that can be consumed daily over a lifetime without adverse health effects.

The maximum intake of substances in food, such as nutrients or contaminants, that can be consumed weekly over a lifetime without risking adverse health effects.

A study designed to estimate the likely consumption of harmful or beneficial substances in the diet. When undertaking such a study, commonly-consumed foods are purchased from shops in a particular country before being analysed.

Total dietary sugars comprises free sugars (including added sugars) plus those sugars naturally present in intact milk, fruits, and vegetables.

The potential of a substance to cause harm to a living organism.

The process of interaction of chemical substances with the body and the subsequent reactions leading to adverse effects.

The study of the processes by which potentially toxic substances are handled in the body. This involves an understanding of the absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion of such substances.

A summary of the toxic effects of a particular substance, including the levels of exposure at which these effects occur.

A value defining the level of a particular substance to which people can safely be exposed over a specified period; for example, the acceptable daily intake (ADI).

The ability to track the journey of a foodstuff or ingredient through all stages of production, processing and distribution.

Traditional food is a subset of novel food. The term relates to food traditionally consumed in countries outside the EU. It includes foods made from plants, microorganisms, fungi, algae and animals (e.g. chia seeds, baobab fruit, insects, water chestnuts).

One of the family of so-called 'omics methods: an approach to the study of gene expression whereby thousands of RNA molecules in a given sample (of tissue or cells) are analysed simultaneously. 

A molecule formed from a particular compound (e.g. a pesticide) as a result of metabolism, chemical reactions or environmental processes.

Capable of being passed between individuals in the same species, as well as between different species (e.g. from animals to humans).

The threshold of toxicological concern (TTC) is a screening tool that provides conservative exposure limits in the absence of sufficient chemical-specific toxicological data. It is a science-based approach for prioritising chemicals with low-level exposures that require more data over those that can be presumed to present no appreciable human health risk.

The tolerable weekly intake (TWI) is the maximum intake of substances in food, such as nutrients or contaminants, that can be consumed weekly over a lifetime without risking adverse health effects.

The time required for 50% of a substance present in an individual, population or ecosystem to break down or be eliminated naturally. The half-life, or t½, is often used to describe the disappearance of potentially harmful substances such as chemical toxins.

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