According to data from the World Health Organisation, foodborne illnesses account for the loss of 33 million healthy life-years annually. While many Europeans take the safety of their food for granted, continuous efforts by allplayers in the food production chain are mandatory for lasting consumer protection.
Europeans appear progressively more interested in the science and processes underpinning the production of the food they consume. According to the Eurobarometer 2019, European consumers are increasingly concerned about:
- The presence of pathogens in food
- The safety of food additives used in food
- Environmental pollution affecting the safety of foodproducts
- Risks from allergic reactions to allergens in foodstuffs
- Bacterial and fungal toxins that can lead tofood poisoning
- Contamination with chemicals from non-food products(such as packaging and processing aids)
- The presence of microplastics in food and the possibleeffects of these on health.
Paying attention to European citizens’ concerns about food safety is essential in order to address the right issues at the right time. At ILSI Europe, we listen to all our stakeholders, including consumers. As a result, we have been addressing all of these concerns.
Working directly with 154 of the leading food safety experts, our different Task Forces and the ILSI Europe team joined forces throughout 2019 to coordinate secondary research groups, organise workshops, sessions and webinars, and initiate round-table discussions. The goal at all times has been to initiate problem-solving and information-sharing on Europe’s current food safety challenges.
BEST PRACTICES TO IDENTIFY AND QUANTIFY UNKNOWN ELEMENTS IN FOOD PACKAGING
The Packaging Materials Task Force launched a new activity in March which aimed to determine whether a set of basic ground rules for academia, industry, authorities and test laboratories could be defined to align procedures for the sampling and analysis of contaminants from food contact materials (FCM).
ILSI EUROPE AT EUROTOX2019
ILSI Europe was one of the silver sponsors of the 2019 ILSI Europe was one of the silver sponsors of the 2019 Congress of European Societies of Toxicology (EUROTOX2019), which aimed to address the top chemical safety challenges of the coming decade. The ILSI Europe Continuous Education Course had the highest attendance of any course at EUROTOX2019, with around 80 participants. Moreover, both ILSI Europe sessions attracted more than 300 participants.
USING IN VITRO BIOASSAYS TO EXCLUDE POTENTIAL CARCINOGENS IN FOOD CONTACT MATERIALS (FCM)
The Packaging Materials Task Force proposed an approach using in vitro bioassays for safety evaluation of FCM. This approach should help to improve understanding of the real safety significance of FCM as a source of chemical exposure to humans. The publication is available on our website.
ASSESSING THE RISK OF MINERAL OILS
A multi-stakeholder workshop was held in February in Brussels to understand and identify the risks of human exposure to mineral oils. More than 60 experts across various sectors created an overview of mineral oils that are of concern for human health. In doing so, they established a consensus on the scientific understanding of exposure assessment, hazard characterisation, risk assessment and analytics of mineral oils.
As a result of this workshop, organised by the Process-Related Compounds & Natural Toxins, a publication is expected to be published.
CONSUMER EXPOSURE TO FOOD ADDITIVES — IMPROVING ASSESSMENT METHODS
Our Dietary Intake and Exposure Task Force led a workshop in October in Dublin to discuss how to potentially improve the methods used to assess consumer exposure to food additives. Experts focused on the potential for incorporating the real consumption habits of the population to advance realistic predictions of exposure and thus ensure consumer safety.
EVALUATING NEW TECHNOLOGY–BASED TOOLS FOR DIETARY INTAKE ASSESSMENT
The ILSI Europe Dietary Intake and Exposure Task Force published an evaluation to explore potential advantages and disadvantages of the use of novel technologies for intake assessment. Some existing tools have significant drawbacks, potentially hampering the collection of realistic and relevant data. The expert group delivered a list of general quality requirements to help scientists and developers in their work towards creating comprehensive and reliable tools.