CONTAM - Food contaminants

Last updated on 14-12-2022 by Pierre Daubresse
Project duration:
July 2, 2012
June 30, 2024

In short

This programme covers activities at national (FASFC) and international (EFSA) levels related to the assessment of risks to human health from food contaminants. We provide independent scientific advice supporting :

  • the development of science-based policies and legislation both at European and Belgian level
  • the decision making of risk managers 

This programme also includes collaboration in research projects on Health Risks for the Belgian population of exposure to food contaminants.

Project description

Hazards and risk of food contaminants
This programme covers activities related to the assessment of hazards and risks to human health from food contaminants. According to Council Regulation EU (EEC) 315/93 , these are any substances not intentionally added to food, e.g.:

  • contaminants of agricultural origin : nitrates, mycotoxins, plant toxins, alkaloids, residues of former pesticides 
  • environmental or industrial origin : heavy metals, dioxins, PCB
  • related to certain processes: acrylamide, furans, PAHs

Contaminant levels must be kept as low as reasonably achievable (ALARA) and maximum levels of specific contaminants are established on the basis of EFSA opinions. 

International advice
At international level, an expert from Sciensano is member of the EFSA Scientific Panel “Contaminants in the Food Chain” (07/2012-06/2024) and of various Working Groups. The Panel provides independent scientific advice that helps the development of science-based European policies and legislation and supports risk managers in their decision making such as the withdrawal from the market of certain foods containing unacceptable levels of certain contaminants for public health.

National advice
At national level, advice regarding toxicology and risk assessment is given to the FASFC and its Scientific Committee according to their requests and in the framework of the preparation of opinions. This work involves participation in specific working groups. 
It also includes also collaboration in research projects on food contaminants and additives of the Scientific Directorate Chemical and Physical Health Risks for the Hazard and Risk assessment parts (e.g. projects on perfluoroalkyl subatances (FLUOREX), (co-)occurrences and single and combined exposures of food additives in the diet of different groups of the Belgian population (Multi_Exp_Add), on  silver nanoparticles present in the E174 food additive (NanoAg)).

Added value for science

  • acquisition and exchange of up-to-date scientific knowledge in the fields of toxicology
  • risk assessment through participation in working groups
  • network of expertise at national and international level.

Sciensano's project investigator(s):

Associated Health Topics

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