The FACET software is the culmination of over five years' work in collaboration with partners from industry, government and academia across Europe. This is the first time that so many stakeholders across so many areas have come together to develop a harmonised methodology to monitor consumer exposure to these chemical groups in Europe.

FACET can be used to estimate dietary exposure to food chemicals in Europe, in particular for flavourings, additives and food packaging substances. These chemicals are present in our diet in varying amounts and consumed in different ways, so it is of vital important to ensure levels of dietary exposure to these substances is at safe levels. This ensures the protection of consumer health (which is of key importance to regulators), and also provides a tool to industry that facilitates innovation by dramatically reducing the uncertainty around the use of different chemicals and also provides a predictive intake modelling tool.

The software contains a wealth of unique databases and models. These include:

  • 15 dietary surveys from 8 member states, harmonised into targeted coding systems
  • databases on the chemical occurrence and use levels of food additives (or E numbers) provided by industry
  • a number of databases on flavouring use levels
  • comprehensive data on substances in inks, adhesives, plastics, metal, paper and board (provided by the food packaging industry)
  • data on construction of different packaging types (provided by the food packaging industry)

These databases were all linked to a migration model that can estimate the amount of a substance leaching from packaging into food, allowing exposure to the substance to be calculated for the 15 dietary surveys from the 8 member states.

The software is freely available for download from the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) website. Several partners, including the JRC, Creme Global and the packaging industry are committed to sustaining FACET into the future with updates and new features already planned. One such feature being currently implemented is the option to create a non-intentionally added substance (NIAS) in a substance or material in a food packaging and the subsequent exposure calculation for the quantity of the substance in the food.