Food safety and quality
| share


JECFA is an expert committee which was called into existence by the Director Generals of FAO and WHO.

The constitutions and rules of both organizations for such committees need to be considered: Article VI of the Constitution of FAO and the Regulations for Expert Advisory Panels and Committees of WHO lay down the basic rules which assure excellence and independence of expert committees which provide scientific advice to both organizations.

The Joint Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)/World Health Organization (WHO) Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) and the Joint FAO/WHO Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR) follow the same general principles and methods for chemical risk assessments, which are published in the reports of both committees.

In the 1980s, the International Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCS) sponsored the preparation of Environmental Health Criteria monographs (EHCs) on Principles for the Safety Assessment of Food Additives and Contaminants in Food (EHC 70) and Principles for the Toxicological Assessment of Pesticide Residues in Food (EHC 104).

Monograph EHC 240

Although much of the guidance set out in EHC 70 and EHC 104 remains valid, there have been significant advances in chemical analysis, toxicology, dietary exposure assessment and risk assessment approaches for chemicals in food since these monographs were prepared.

Accordingly, FAO and WHO initiated a project to update, harmonize and consolidate principles and methods used by JECFA and JMPR for the risk assessment of food additives, food contaminants, natural toxicants and residues of pesticides and veterinary drugs.

The monograph EHC 240: Principles and methods for risk assessment of chemicals in food is the outcome of that project.

The monograph addresses the key issues considered by JECFA and JMPR in their food chemical risk assessments.

JECFA recommendations

The committee follows in its work modern principles of risk assessment, however, such different chemicals occurring intentionally or unintentionally in food as flavours and industrial contaminants pose different questions.

Therefore a set of guidelines which have been developed by the joint secretariats and the committee are available.

These documents provide guidance to the secretaries, members and experts, and to interested parties that submit data or intend to follow JECFA's recommendations.

Both joint secretariats maintain separate and complementary sets of guidelines.

Guidelines available from the FAO Joint Secretariat