On March 19, 2015 the National Food Institute at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU Food) reported on the results of its four-year research project on chemical cocktail effects in food. Researchers Anne Marie Vinggaard and colleagues investigated the effects that can occur in humans when chemicals are present at the same time in a “cocktail”. They found that such chemical mixtures often have an additive effect. This means that cocktail effects can be predicted from information on the effects of the single chemicals. Also, small amounts of chemicals can have significant negative effects when present in a cocktail. The researchers further determined that the Danish population’s intake of pesticides via food is relatively limited. However, exposure to substances such as lead, cadmium, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and dioxins needs to be reduced. Where information was available on the effects of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), the results showed that intake of EDCs, such as phthalates and fluorinated chemicals used in food contact materials (FCMs), needs to be reduced also. As part of the project, a mathematical model was developed to calculate the cumulative effect of chemical mixtures for cases where effect and dose of the single chemicals are known or can be estimated. The model revealed that the Danish population’s chemical burden may be harmful to overall health for groups with the highest exposure. Finally, the project produced a toolbox for use in risk assessments to account for chemical cocktail effects.

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DTU Food (March 19, 2015). “New knowledge strengthens risk assessment of chemical cocktails in food.