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The FACET Project

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Family-dinnerThe 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, food flavourings and food contact materials and corresponding food consumption data.

The main reasons for requiring such a tool in the EU can be summarized as follows:

  1. Efforts to monitor exposure to food chemicals intake tend to focus on specific groups of chemicals; 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, however,  will ensure that the surveillance system developed during the project will be sustainable after the project's end, and susceptible of future development for use by EU regulatory authorities.

The main project areas of FACET concern:

  • Food additives
  • Food flavourings
  • Food packaging migrants
  • Occurrence of chemicals in food
  • Chemical concentration data in food
  • Food intake data
  • Regional modelling
  • Models for exposure to chemicals in food


What the project achieved:

  • Recording of occurrence levels of targeted chemicals in representative regions of the EU food supply.

  • Creation of a database of targeted food chemical concentrations in foods.

  • Establishment of a migration modelling framework for complex packaging materials into foods under real conditions of use. in order to deliver realistic concentration estimates for consumer exposure modelling.

  • Construction of a food intake database aimed at foods which are relevant to the targeted chemicals. The database is tiered from very comprehensive data to less detailed data to reflect the existing variability in the access to, and level of detail in, food intake data.

  • Development of a PC based, publicly available software programme, taking into account the variation of national food consumption data. This tool is built on known food intake patterns, and in particular on small national surveys and local knowledge to model regional intake of target foods.

  • Creation of new databases, populated with the data generated by the project to provide estimates of exposure using the probabilistic model.


The project was organised in 3 sectoral groups:

FACET Scientific Organisation

The Chemicals group (Flavourings, Additives, Packaging Materials and Concentration work-packages): 

This group focused on target chemical types. It established a list of target chemicals in the respective area and ascertained relevant concentration data. It also proposed a list of foods likely to contain the target chemicals (by interaction with the foods group)

The Foods group (Food intake, Chemical occurrence and Regional modelling work-packages):
The food intake group linked with the chemicals group to agree definitions of food groups in order to estimate intakes of such defined food groups. It also worked with the subgroups to create suitable database architecture for food intake data, input into regional models. The occurrence subgroup worked on food chemical occurrence data with the food chemicals group.

The Database and Modelling groups (Exposure modelling work-package):
Databases will be constructed which have connectivity between intake, occurrence and concentration for each chemical. These databases will exist in tiers corresponding to the complexity of the data. The modelling group will include those involved in the packaging group in modelling migration of food contact materials into food. It will also involve almost all work-packages in agreeing algorithms for probabilistic modelling for exposure.

A more complete description can be found in the proceedings presentations of the final conference (see under events).

Photo: Family dinner. Copyright Corbis.

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