E
An integral component of food safety risk assessment is estimating individual exposure to chemicals (including nutrients) and biological agents in food, based on an understanding of what people eat. Unfortunately, many countries do not have access to consistent, reliable information on nutrient intake and dietary exposure to food chemicals and biological agents at individual level, neither in the general population, nor in vulnerable population groups. Moreover, information available at national level can be difficult to interpret in an international context due to lack of harmonization in the reporting. Overall, the lack of data for certain regions poses challenges and at times affects the global acceptance of Codex standards. In Asia, individual consumption data have already been made available as summary statistics in a harmonized format for China, Japan and Australia/New-Zealand. On the contrary in the 10 countries belonging to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), data are sparse and heterogeneous. As 2015 will be a crucial year for ASEAN (deadline for the launching of a three-pillared community ), FAO and WHO decided to support the ASEAN countries in implementing a risk-based approach for food safety and nutrition, and to improve effective participation in Codex discussions. To do so, a FAO/WHO project on “ASEAN Food Consumption Data & Exposure Assessment”, which aims to promote harmonization of food consumption data available in the economic area, started in 2010. Two meetings were organized in 2011 and 2013 and an inventory of existing individual food consumption data as well as a plan for their post-harmonization are available. In the context of Codex work, improved exposure data at country level will be useful to a range of Codex Committees (CCCF, CCPR, CCFA, CCRVDF, CCNFSDU) in setting MLs or MRLs, developing codes of practice and addressing nutrition recommendations. Currently food consumption data is being entered into the FAO/WHO Chronic Individual Food Consumption Database – Summary Statistics (CIFOCOss) and are used to estimate the dietary exposure to food chemicals, e.g. food additives and veterinary drugs. Building on this work and in order to perform more accurate exposure assessment and, in particular, to use probabilistic modelling to assess the risk for various groups of consumers, FAO, in collaboration with WHO and other international partners has initiated a new work to collate microdata (also called raw data) from individual food consumption data. This global database (the FAO/WHO Global Individual Food Consumption Database or FAO/WHO GIFT) is under development to make this information readily accessible in a dissemination platform. The information will be easily referenced and cross-linked to other existing global databases, e.g. FAOSTAT, GEMS/food. This database is based on the model of the comprehensive food consumption database developed by EFSA for EU Member States.

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