Sécurité sanitaire et qualité des aliments

Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA)

JECFA is an international scientific expert committee administered jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and WHO. It has been meeting since 1956, to evaluate the safety of food additives, contaminants, naturally occurring toxicants and residues of veterinary drugs in food.

The evaluation of food additives at the international level was initiated as a result of a Joint FAO/WHO Conference on Food Additives held in Geneva, Switzerland in 1955. The Conference recommended to the Directors-General of FAO and WHO that one or more expert committees should be convened to address the technical and administrative aspects of chemical additives and their safety in food

JECFA serves as an independent scientific expert committee, which performs risk assessments and provides advice to FAO, WHO and the member countries of both organizations, as well as to the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC). JECFA Members are prominent scientists from across the world, of recognized scientific excellence with competences spreading across disciplines within JECFA remit:

  • Risk assessments / safety evaluations of: food additives, processing aids, residues of veterinary drugs in animal products, contaminants and natural toxins;
  • Exposure assessments to chemicals;
  • Specifications and analytical methods, residue definition, Maximum Residue Limits proposals on veterinary drugs;
  • Guidelines for the safety assessment of chemicals in foods consistent with current thinking on risk assessment in toxicology and other relevant sciences.

JECFA normally meets twice a year with individual agendas covering either (i) food additives, contaminants and naturally occurring toxicants in food or (ii) residues of veterinary drugs in food. The membership of the meetings varies accordingly, with different sets of experts being called on depending on the subject matter.

FAO and WHO may also convene expert meetings to provide scientific advice on issues related to chemical food safety that fall outside the remit of JECFA, either in response to specific requests from Codex, and/or to advice national authorities on risks or incidents that affect consumers’ health and have serious economic and trade repercussions.

JECFA Outputs

Resources produced for or after the JECFA meetings include

  • Summary and Conclusions report;
  • Chemical & Technical Assessments (CTA);
  • Full JECFA Meeting reports published in the WHO Technical Report Series;
  • Compendium of FAO Food Additive Specifications;
  • Veterinary drug residues monographs published in the FAO JECFA Monograph series and,
  • Toxicological monographs published in the WHO Food Additive Series (FAS).

To download and read the latest JECFA resources, visit our Publications page and in the "Categories" drop-down menu, select "JECFA monographs" then click the search button.

Visit the JECFA databases to access the most recent information on food additives, flavourings and maximum residue levels for veterinary drugs evaluated by JECFA.