Department Food Safety

The Food Safety Department assesses the substance risks from food. The substances for assessment may be contained naturally as ingredients in food or may be admixed to food as additives or flavourings. Undesirable substances, which reach food during manufacturing, storage or treatment processes, are also evaluated.

The Department likewise assesses foods on the basis of nutritional-medical criteria. In this context, infant formula plays an important role. The Department voices its opinion on food risks and nutritional prevention.

Another major area of the Department’s work is the elaboration of opinions in the field of novel foods and genetically manufactured food and feed.

In the Department modern molecular and cell biological methods are developed and used in order to identify new biological endpoints for the risk assessment of potentially risky substances. Furthermore, innovative detection methods and strategies/methods for the molecular traceability and product identity of food are developed and applied.

The Department is actively engaged in research in the field of molecular and biochemical food safety. It seeks to identify the mechanisms of action with a view to elaborating concrete management options for consumer protection.

The focus of research is on:

  • Molecular mechanisms of toxicologically relevant substances (including nanoparticles) in food. The objective here is to identify new molecular markers with the help of proteomics and transcriptomics methods.
  • Mechanisms of the gastrointestinal barrier for foreign substances in food
  • Development of effect-related, cell-based biotest systems for effect-related analytics

Two reference laboratories are attached to the Department:

  • National Reference Laboratory for Animal Proteins in Feed
  • Reference laboratory in the European Network of GMO Laboratories

The Department supports the following BfR Committees:

  • Nutrition, Dietetic Products, Novel Foods and Allergies
  • Genetically Modified Food and Feed
  • Food additives, Flavourings and Processing Aids

and the

  • National Breastfeeding Committee

Department 5 has four Units:


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