Risk assessment to underpin food regulatory decisions: an example of public health nutritional epidemiology

Nutrients. 2011 Jan;3(1):164-85. doi: 10.3390/nu3010164. Epub 2011 Jan 20.


The approach used by food regulation agencies to examine the literature and forecast the impact of possible food regulations has many similar features to the approach used in nutritional epidemiological research. We outline the Risk Analysis Framework described by FAO/WHO, in which there is formal progression from identification of the nutrient or food chemical of interest, through to describing its effect on health and then assessing whether there is a risk to the population based on dietary exposure estimates. We then discuss some important considerations for the dietary modeling component of the Framework, including several methodological issues that also exist in research nutritional epidemiology. Finally, we give several case studies that illustrate how the different methodological components are used together to inform decisions about how to manage the regulatory problem.

Keywords: additives; food regulation; fortification; risk analysis.

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Consumer Product Safety*
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis
  • Epidemiologic Studies
  • Food / toxicity
  • Food Analysis
  • Food Safety / methods*
  • Humans
  • Models, Theoretical
  • New Zealand
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Risk Assessment / methods