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Technical report on handling occurrence data for dietary exposure assessments

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Abstract

EFSA has the mandate to collect data on the occurrence of chemicals in food and feed in relation to various domains (i.e. contaminants, food additives, pesticide residues and veterinary medicinal product residues (VMPRs)) at the level of the European Union. National food authorities, research institutions, academia, food business operators and other stakeholders submit data to EFSA in the SSD2 (Standard Sample Description version 2) format. A crucial prerequisite for reliable dietary exposure and risk assessments is that the occurrence data are harmonised and accurate. Quality issues, inconsistencies or incomplete information may have a considerable impact on the accuracy of the dietary exposure assessments carried out for EFSA’s scientific outputs, especially when these data have been collected from different countries and institutions. Considering that exposure assessment is a critical component of risk assessment, the present report proposes guidance for the resolution of the issues that affect the occurrence data. Although primarily intended for the use of EFSA exposure assessors dealing with cleaning and further adjustments of the occurrence data in relation to contaminants in food and feed, food additives and pesticides residues levels in food, it can be applied by any exposure assessor dealing with the assessment of dietary exposure to food chemicals. The following most commonly occurring issues that can affect the occurrence data used for dietary exposure assessments were identified: sampling strategy, pooled samples, country of origin, date of sampling, analytical method not available, issues related to limit of detection/quantification, data below detection capability, recovery, occurrence data expressed differently than on whole weight, qualitative occurrence data, conversion factors and occurrence data on ‘grains as crops’. The report is designed to introduce these issues and to provide practical instructions on an appropriate approach to address those that are identified during the cleaning and preparation of chemical occurrence data that are being used to estimate dietary exposure.

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