Today, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) unveiled OpenFoodTox--a new database that provides instant access to a wealth of information from over 1,650 EFSA scientific outputs about the toxicity of chemicals found in the food and feed chain. This database helps EFSA to increase transparency by making its data available for others to explore and re-use.

According to Jean-Lou Dorne, the toxicologist who spearheaded OpenFoodTox’s development, the information in the database has always been publicly available. The difference is that now, viewers will not have to sift through over 1,650 separate scientific opinions and conclusions. OpenFoodTox now provides quick and easy access to that huge body of work all in one place.

OpenFoodTox provides summarized toxicological information used by EFSA in its risk assessments since 2002. This includes data on food and feed additives, flavorings, natural and man-made contaminants, and pesticides. The risk assessments not only outline critical health effects for humans, but also for farm animals, pets and species of ecological importance (bees, fish, etc.)

Jane Richardson, OpenFoodTox’s lead scientist on open data says that the database gives information on over 4,000 chemical substances, related EU legislation, the EFSA output identifying their critical effects and the safe levels set by EFSA scientific panels, such as tolerable or acceptable daily intakes.

The database, which is meant to be used by scientists, decision makers, food operators and the general public, has taken over 5 years to compile. EFSA plans to update it annually. There are also plans to develop a smartphone app for even easier access.

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