Copyright: DTU Fødevareinstituttet

Research leads to better predictions of cocktail effects

Thursday 17 Sep 15


Terje Svingen
Associate Professor, Head of Research Group
National Food Institute
+45 93 51 88 80


Anne Marie Vinggaard
National Food Institute
+45 35 88 75 49

In order to protect people from chemicals’ harmful effects it is not sufficient to carry out risk assessments one by one of the chemicals people are exposed to every day. Research from the National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark, shows that if many chemicals with similar effects are present at the same time even at low levels, they may add up to do harm. For this reason both risk assessment and legislation should take potential cocktail effects into account.

People are exposed to a vast number of natural and synthetic chemicals every day for instance through foods, polluted air, cosmetics, clothes and electronic devices. There has long been concern that when people are exposed to a cocktail of chemicals that have a similar effect, these chemicals can add up to do harm – even if individually they are present at low or ‘safe’ doses.

In a four-year project on chemical cocktails in food, researchers from the National Food Institute have shown that chemicals even at low doses can have a significant negative effect if they are present in a chemical cocktail. The researchers have also shown that it is possible in most cases to predict the cocktail effect, provided common effects and exposure levels to single chemicals are known. In the project they have also created a toolbox, which can be used to perform risk assessments and predict cocktail effects.

Read more

The Cocktail project has been described in an article in the online publication Pan European Networks Science & Technology: Chemical cocktail effects. The article is written by Postdoc Terje Svingen and Professor Anne Marie Vinggaard from the National Food Institute.

The aim of the project has been described in more detail in the booklet: Cocktail: Danmarks største forskningsprojekt om cocktaileffekter i fødevarer (pdf – available in Danish only).