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New hierarchical classification of food items for the assessment of exposure to packaging migrants: use of hub codes for different food groups

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This paper describes development work undertaken to expand the capabilities of an existing two-dimensional probabilistic modelling approach for assessing dietary exposure to chemicals migrating out of food contact materials. A new three-level hub-coding system has been devised for coding different food groups with regards to their consumption by individuals. The hub codes can be used at three different levels representing a high, medium and low level of aggregation of individual food items. The hub codes were developed because they have a greater relevance to packaging migration than coding used (largely and historically) for nutritional purposes. Also, the hub codes will assist pan-europeanization of the exposure model in the future, when up to 27 or more different food coding systems from 27 European Union Member States will have to be assimilated into the modelling approach. The applicability of the model with the new coding system has been tested by incorporating newly released 2001 UK consumption data. The example used was exposure to a hypothetical migrant from coated metal packaging for foodstuffs. When working at the three hierarchical levels, it was found that the tiered approach gave conservative estimates at the cruder level of refinement and a more realistic assessment was obtained as the refinement progressed. The work overall revealed that changes in eating habits over time had a relatively small impact on estimates of exposure. More important impacts are changes over time in packaging usage, packaging composition and migration levels. For countries like the UK, which has sophisticated food consumption data, it is uncertainties in these other areas that need to be addressed by new data collection.
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Keywords: Hub codes; exposure assessment; food contact materials; food item classification; probabilistic modelling; Monte Carlo simulation; migration

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Central Science Laboratory, Sand Hutton, York, UK 2: The Valspar (UK) Corporation Ltd, Witney, UK

Publication date: April 1, 2009

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