The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and RIVM are jointly conducting pilot assessments into the health risks posed to consumers through exposure to multiple pesticides via food. The MCRA model (Monte Carlo Risk Assessment) that was developed by RIVM and Biometris (Wageningen University and Research) is used for this assessments. It is crucial that the required data can be fed into the model in a structured way. This is described in the report “Proposal for a data model for probabilistic cumulative dietary exposure assessments of pesticides in line with the MCRA software”, that was published by EFSA today.
People are exposed to multiple residues of pesticides simultaneously through their diets. Active substances in these pesticides can be grouped on the basis of their potential effects on organ functions. For instance, substances that influence the production of hormones in the thyroid can be added in the risk assessment. EFSA intends to make available the data from food consumption surveys as well as occurrence data in a database that can be linked to the MCRA model.
In the perspective of food safety it is important to identify health risks that may be associated with the exposure to multiple pesticide residues. The introduction of the calculation model and the availability of the required data in a structured way are important steps towards cumulative risk assessment in Europe. This methodology can then be used by all EU Member States. At this moment, pilot assessments looking at the cumulative effects of exposure to pesticides in food on the human nervous and thyroid systems are conducted. EFSA expects to publish the assessments by the end of the year. Over the coming years, the model will be applied in the risk assessment for other organs.