Risk assessment

An important topic in the food safety system is the risk assessment of chemicals in food and feed. Read more about it in the WHO Environmental Health Criteria 240. With it one can define acceptable concentrations of additives to be added to food, e.g. preservatives. And, it can evaluate possible health risks for the consumer of concentrations of chemicals that are found in food and feed, such as environmental contaminants and toxins. For that evaluation an exposure assessment is needed. In an exposure assessment, one calculates the intake of a chemical from food, using the concentration of the chemical substance and the consumption quantities of a consumer. That intake is to be compared with a maximum exposure limit value or the substance. Such a limit is the Health Based Guidance Value (HBGV). Well known examples of these limits are the ADI and TDI, and the ARfD and RfD. BMDLs can also be used as limit values, according to EFSAs concept of the Margin of Exposure. For the evaluation of genotoxic chemical substances a slope factor or a BMDL can be used. More descriptive information on genotoxic chemicals and on HBGVs and BMDLs can also be found in this portal.


Based on the results of an laboratory analysis of chemicals in food or feed one can perform an exposure assessment. One needs consumption quantities of the commodities containing the chemical compound, to calculate the intake of the consumer. That intake is then to be compared with the appropriate HBGV. When the intake exceeds the HBGV, it can be concluded that a health risk exists for that consumer.

Finding the appropriate data is the challenge. Searching the Internet and other sources of information will demonstrate that most data are available, but fragmented and dispersed. Therefore, on request of various people working in the field of foodsafety an online calculation tool for exposure assessment was developed, e.g. for supporting RASFF notifications. In EU Regulation 1715/2019 (the IMSOC Regulation) it is described that member states classify the risk prior to sending the notification. So, a rapid exposure asessment might be needed after finding chemicals i food or feed. More about RASFF can be found on its website, with a link to the RASFF portal. The rapid exposure assessment tool in this portal is called EAST; it looks for the relevant data in databases, and after selection of various parameters by the user, it will calculate exposure, and compare the intake with the HBGVs and BMDLs.

There are now three versions of EAST. These versions share the same database with HBGs and BMDLs, but the databases with the food consumption quantities differ. Besides some differences can be noticed for the selection of parameters, and for the presentation of results. In "Using EAST" more information can be found on how to use the different versions of EAST.

To use EAST 2 or EAST 3, select its icon.
The first version of EAST can be found in the Archive.


As the EFSA RACE tool is also intended for rapid exposure assessment, EAST could be seen as a "competitor" or a "copy" of RACE. EAST was however developed independently from RACE. EAST has a more intuitive user interface, as EAST was made in close collaboration with less experienced users. EAST also provides you with some additional support that cannot be found in RACE, e.g. it calculates a Limit of Rejection and the Maximum Consumption Quantity. To use RACE one needs to register; your input is stored on an external server. In contrast EAST does not load and store information of users, and therefore there is no need for the registration.