Nowadays risk assessment is mainly performed using point estimates of both exposure and health effect: a certain level of exposure (high level, mean level) is compared with a toxicological reference value (e.g. Acute Reference Dose, Acceptable/Tolerable Daily Intake). In the period 2002-2005 there has been much effort in promoting the acceptance of probabilistic exposure modelling within Europe. This has included training of EU regulators themselves. Nevertheless, acceptance of this approach remains difficult. For a large part this is due to unfamiliarity with the method and a lack of guidelines on how to interpret the results in relation to health effects.
However, complicated risk assessment issues have emerged during the last few years, such as cumulative assessment, risk-benefit and risk trade-off analyses, integration of exposure modelling with effect modelling (Marin of Exposure) and multi-source exposure, together with the continuous demand to address uncertainty and variability when assessing dietary risks.
As a result, the demand for the use of probabilistic approaches will only increase in the future. This includes the extension of already existing probabilistic software available, as well as new insights on how to deal with these questions (e.g. how to weigh risks and benefits on a common scale).
In addition, there is an increasing need for data sharing (both food consumption and monitoring data of all kinds of chemicals) at the European level, as brought about by EFSA. The e-platform developed by WP3 fits very well in these developments. As mentioned before, this platform is a powerful tool to share data across Europe. The platform can the potential to, easily, be expanded with food consumption and monitoring data of other countries.
During a training event attended by representatives of different European food safety authorities, including EFSA, this platform was received very positively. People saw the potential of national food authorities sharing data and models among themselves. However, it was also noticed that – in order to make it really workable – a harmonised approach of data formatting should be developed, training is needed for more data organisation and reviewing of data was desirable, preferably under the umbrella of EFSA.All in all the “products” developed within WP3 have a great potential to facilitate a more realistic exposure assessment, especially compared to methods used presently