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Chemical risks and JECFA

The Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) is an international expert scientific committee that is administered jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

It has been meeting since 1956, initially to evaluate the safety of food additives.

Areas of work

  • Risk assessment/safety evaluation of:
    • Food additives (intentionally added)
    • Processing aids (considered as food additives)
    • Flavouring agents (by functional groups)
    • Residues of veterinary drugs in animal products
    • Contaminants
    • Natural toxins
  • Exposure assessment
  • Specifications and analytical methods, residue definition, MRL proposals (veterinary drugs)
  • Development of general principles

JECFA has evaluated more than 2,500 food additives, approximately 40 contaminants and naturally occurring toxicants, and residues of approximately 90 veterinary drugs.

The Committee has also developed principles for safety assessment of chemicals in foods that are consistent with current thinking on risk assessment and take account of developments in toxicology and other relevant sciences.


Summaries and conclusions from JECFA meetings

Related links

JECFA 50th anniversary medal