Implementing a risk-risk analysis framework to evaluate the impact of food intake shifts on risk of illness: a case study with infant cereal
PUBLISHED ON Mar 18, 2021
LAST UPDATED Mar 18, 2021

Food Additives & Contaminants: Part A, 2021,

Sofia M. Santillana Farakosaa, RĂ©gis Pouillotbb, Judith Spungenaa, Brenna Flanneryaa, Jane M. Van Dorenaa, and Sherri Dennisaa

aCenter for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, College Park, Maryland, USA; bIndependent Consultant, Buenos Aires, Argentina

In food safety, process pathway risk assessments usually estimate the risk of illness from a single hazard and a single food and can inform food safety decisions and consumer advice. To evaluate the health impact of a potential change in diet, we need to understand not only the risk posed by the considered hazard and food but also the risk posed by the substitution food and other potential hazards. We developed a framework to provide decision-makers with a multi-faceted evaluation of the impact of dietary shifts on risk of illness. Our case study explored exposure to inorganic arsenic (iAs) and aflatoxins through consumption of infant cereals and the risk of developing lung, bladder and liver cancer over a lifetime. The estimated additional Disability-Adjusted Life Year (DALY) in the U.S. from exposure to iAs and aflatoxin based on available contamination and consumption patterns of infant rice and oat cereal is 4,921 (CI 90% 414; 9,071). If all infant cereal consumers shift intake (maintaining equivalent serving size and frequency) to only consuming infant rice cereal, the predicted DALY increases to 6,942 (CI 90% 326; 12,931). If all infant cereal consumers shift intake to only consuming infant oat cereal, the predicted DALY decreases to 1,513 (CI 90% 312; 3,356). Changes in contaminant concentrations or percent consumers, that could occur in the future, also significantly impact the predicted risk. Uncertainty in these risk predictions is primarily driven by the dose-response models. A risk-risk analysis framework provides decision-makers with a nuanced understanding of the public health impact of dietary changes and can be applied to other food safety and nutrition questions.