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This technical report derives from a self-task mandate of EFSA and describes a framework applicable, in principle, for the identification of emerging chemical risks, as defined by Regulation (EC) No 178/2002, occurring in the food and feed chain with a likely direct or indirect impact on humans, animals, plants or any other organisms under EFSA’s competence, mainly associated with intentionally and non-intentionally manufactured industrial chemicals as well as with natural contaminants transferred to the food/feed chain through the environment. However, in view of the need for undergoing a validation step before undertaking a wider application of the proposed methodology, the present proposal is focused on available data sources/bases and criteria more relevant for the identification of emerging risks for humans.

The proposed procedure uses in a structured manner: (i) a variety of data sources that have recently become available on industrial chemicals produced in the EU, or on environmental occurrence of chemical contaminants; and (ii) software models for the prediction of the environmental behaviour, biological and toxic activity of specific chemicals from molecular structures and physico-chemical properties.

In general, the framework consists of a multi-step selection procedure that starts from a list of chemical substances (referred to as “entry point”) to which a sequence of selection (inclusion/exclusion) criteria is applied to identify the chemicals of potential concern in the present context. The selection criteria take into account volumes of production or import, persistence in the environment, bioaccumulation, dispersive uses, toxicity, and any available risk assessment.

For more information on chemical risks in the food chain, please visit the EFSA link above.