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About Facet

Why FACET was developed and funded – the importance of this research to the EU.

The FACET project was developed in response to a call by the European Commission to produce a risk management tool consisting of a database containing information on the levels of food additives, flavourings and food packaging migrants and corresponding food consumption data.

The main reasons that such a tool is required in the EU can be summarized as follows:

  1. Efforts to monitor exposure to food chemical intake tend to be orientated toward specific groups of chemicals and to date, no concerted effort has been made in the EU to combine exposure estimates for several chemicals into one project.
  2. In the past, individual projects estimating food chemical exposure have had a finite objective in providing an exposure estimate at a defined point in time. The present study will certainly do that but it is also intended that the surveillance system developed in the present project will be capable of being both sustained and developedfor use by EU regulatory authorities.

With regards to the main areas separately, FACET will extend the current state-of-the-art as follows:

Food additives:

  • The proposed approach will define a suitable food categorisation system for food additives. At present no such standard exists and this allows for subjective error in defining categories.
  • With the help of national database managers, food categories in national databases will be harmonised with the additive food categories.

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  • FACET will provide DG SANCO with detailed information for about 40 flavouring substances chosen to represent the different typologies of flavours.
  • In particular, food consumption data will be made available with a food categorisation system suitable for assessing potential exposure to flavourings.
  • It will provide the capacity to take into account “high consumption, special groups of consumers and different age groups” as laid out in the call.
  • It will also provide DG SANCO with a tool allowing to efficiently perform exposure assessment on other flavouring substances. 
  • The results of the project will allow a significant reduction in the uncertainty in exposure assessment of flavouring substances which is currently very large.

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Food packaging migrants:

  • FACET will create a database of the chemicals that are likely to be contained in different packaging materials used across Europe.
  • With the help of a consortium of industry partners, a comprehensive European database on food packaging usage patterns will be established for the first time.
  • FACET will develop a new, scientifically-based, classification of foods according to their migration behaviour, to support compliance testing of food packaging and to assist help derive realistic migration values for exposure estimation.
  • FACET will conduct migration research to derive fundamental partition and diffusion parameters that describe the migration process for packaged foods.
  • FACET will develop a mathematical modelling tool to estimate migration from packaging materials into foods under real conditions of use, with both deterministic and probabilistic outputs for exposure estimates.
  • A new in silico QSAR approach will be developed, validated and used to evaluate the toxicological significance of exposure to packaging substances.

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Food chemical occurrence:

  • FACET will establish an agreed format for a harmonised database on food chemical occurrence.
  • It will also establish a protocol for populating such a database.
  • Finally, it will create a new database with data from 8 partner countries (Ireland, UK, France, Italy, Finland, Poland, Hungary and Portugal).

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Food chemical concentration data:

  • FACET will create a database of dossiers on all targeted food additives with concentration data for different foods and different formulations of the same food.
  • It will create a database on patterns of usage of different flavourings and blends of flavouring compounds.
  • FACET will establish a migration modelling framework tool box for complex packaging materials into foods under real conditions of use in order to deliver realistic concentration estimates for consumer exposure models.

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Food intake data:

  • FACET will agree on a new tiered and harmonised food intake database structure.
  • It will populate that database with targeted food intake data from all member states.
  • It will also set out a series of rules on the use of datasets to project to high end consumers and to ensure that all vulnerable groups are included.

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Regional modelling:

  • FACET will develop a novel modeling approach to generate surrogate data to represent missing national dietary patterns.
  • Bayesian analysis and formal elicitation of expert opinion will be used to refine intake models and a targeted food frequency questionnaire will provide quantitative validation.

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Food chemical exposure models:

  • FACET will provide for the first time a validated software programme for deterministic and probabilistic modeling of food chemical intake.
  • FACET will quantify variability and uncertainty in the probabilistic modeling of food chemical intake and propagate the model with confidence intervals for estimated intakes.

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