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Toxicological assessment of food and feed safety

For a fast and effective assessment of the safety of new food products TNO develops and automated expert system. The toxicological characteristics of food and feed will be efficiently collected and assessed, and, if needed, it can give a substantiated recommendation for follow-up research. The method contributes to optimal usage of the available toxicological data which avoids unnecessary (animal) research.

For several reasons, it is becoming more difficult to assess the safety of new food and feed products. First of all, the composition of food products is more complex by the usage of new sources and food production processes. Second, the requirements by the (international) regulations for the substantiation of safety are becoming stricter. Law is not asking a standard toxicity protocol, but demands a thorough substantiation (evaluation) of the safety of a new product before allowing its release on the market.

Automated assessment system

The developed expert system will have the following functions:

  • It offers the user a fast and automatic method for collection of the available toxicological information. The tool organizes and ranks the information on reliability and relevance and helps to systematically assess the toxicological data
  • It describes how to use the toxicological characteristics of structurally-related compounds to fill data gaps of the new compounds (read-across protocol). The OECD-QSAR-Toolbox, made by the OECD for similar purposes, will be part of the TNO-method
  • It will identify which toxicological follow-up research is needed on the base of the available toxicological information. Follow-up research can be conventional or innovative toxicity tests relevant for the underpinning of general toxicity, genotoxicity, carcinogenicity, reproduction and teratogenicity

Efficient assessment of safety

The efficiency of the safety assessment for known and unknown components in food and feed products will be improved by the TNO expert system for toxicological assessment. This is achieved by a possibly automated standardized assessment of the toxicological characteristics, based on an optimal use of all the available toxicological and safety data. It delivers a fast and reliable assessment of new food products without unnecessary (animal) research. In this way, TNO is in the position to keep the current high standard for food safety, and is able to successfully introduce new developments in the food production that come from economical, technological and/or social considerations.


Dr. Claudia van den Berg


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