Unit Food Toxicology
The “Food Toxicology” unit assesses the possible health risks of food and their components and ingredients. Its tasks cover but are not restricted to:
- Foods for general consumption (foods of vegetable and animal origin and their natural ingredients)
- Food additives, processing aids and chemically defined (natural, nature-identical and artificial) flavourings, flavouring extracts (natural flavours, source materials and “active principles”), thermal process flavourings and smoke flavourings
- Food treatment and preparation processes
- Plants and plant extracts in foods
- Alcoholic beverages, fruit juices, soft drinks, coffee, tea and cocoa and their ingredients and impurities
- Novel foods and food ingredients
- Foods from genetically modified organisms
Scientific opinions on risk assessment are prepared in line with international guidelines and standards and options for risk-preventing measures are recommended for risk management (in particular national and regional government ministries, federal authorities and the EU Commission) on the basis of the available data on toxicity and exposure. A further main task of the unit is the coordination of opinions in the field of novel foods and food ingredients.
Staff members of the unit work in national and international specialised committees, in particular the scientific committees and working groups of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV).
The unit’s activities in the area of risk assessment are complemented by participation in national and international research projects as well as its own research. The focus here is on approaches to improve scientific knowledge for the assessment of the health risks of substances in foods with the help of modern, molecular biological in-vitro methods. Another area of main emphasis involves strategies for the assessment of certain substance classes (e.g. the endocrine-damaging potential of substances in food).