EFSA Open Food Tox Database

A database of HBGVs

With regard to the safety of chemicals, toxicologists determine if and how they may be hazardous for humans, animals or the environment. They identify critical health effects and where possible establish safe levels. In former days these levels were referred to as "norms" or "standards", but nowadays known as HBGVs or Reference Values. The HBGVs play an essential role in the exposure assessments of chemical compounds in food and feed. One should be aware that these values have no legal status in the EU, and can differ between risk assessors.

EFSA database

Since its foundation in 2002, EFSA has produced risk assessments for thousands of substances in scientific opinions, statements and conclusions. For individual substances, a summary of human health, animal health, or ecological hazard assessments has been collected into EFSA’s chemical hazards database: OpenFoodTox. The database is published and accessible through the Internet. Besides an article was published in 2017 entitled OpenFoodTox: EFSA's open source toxicological database on chemical hazards in food and feed.

Through EFSA's webpage it is possible to enter the database and to select a substance by name or CAS number. It shows four pages; the "Substance Browser" will show information, such as Underlying Opinions, Reference Points, and Reference Values. Here one can find the HBGVs for a chemical compound. The "Reference Values" tab gives an overview of populations and reference values. Here they are ordered by its type, e.g. ADI or Group ADI, or ARfD, .... In the tab with the "Reference Points" an overview is given of underlying studies, species, and reference points. The last tab shows "Background documents".


From the EFSA website, one can download the OpenFoodTox database. It links to a ZENODO page, where more information is given on the database. Besides it provides a series of xlsx files for download. One of these files at this moment (February 2021) is the OpenFoodToxTX22525_2020.xlsx (11 MB) spreadsheet. The other files provide excerpts of the original database (the latter is my conclusion drawn on the basis of a comparison of data).

The main spreadsheet was downloaded, and converted into a SQL database that can be queried in this portal. The output of the portal version was copied from the EFSA database system, with small changes to optimize it for finding the appropriate HBGV for an exposure assessment.