The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the World Health Organization (WHO), with the support of the International Life Sciences Institute, European Branch (ILSI Europe), organized an international conference on 16-18 November 2005 to discuss how regulatory and advisory bodies evaluate the potential risks of the presence in food of substances that are both genotoxic and carcinogenic. The objectives of the conference were to discuss the possible approaches for risk assessment of such substances, how the approaches may be interpreted and whether they meet the needs of risk managers. ALARA (as low as reasonably achievable) provides advice based solely on hazard identification and does not take into account either potency or human exposure. The use of quantitative low-dose extrapolation of dose-response data from an animal bioassay raises numerous scientific uncertainties related to the selection of mathematical models and extrapolation down to levels of human exposure. There was consensus that the margin of exposure (MOE) was the preferred approach because it is based on the available animal dose-response data, without extrapolation, and on human exposures. The MOE can be used for prioritisation of risk management actions but the conference recognised that it is difficult to interpret it in terms of health risk.