Food safety

About the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA)


The Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) is an international scientific expert committee that is administered jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO). It has been meeting since 1956, initially to evaluate the safety of food additives. Its work now also includes the evaluation of contaminants, naturally occurring toxicants and residues of veterinary drugs in food.

To date, JECFA has evaluated more than 2600 food additives, approximately 50 contaminants and naturally occurring toxicants, and residues of approximately 95 veterinary drugs. The Committee also develops principles for the safety assessment of chemicals in food that are consistent with current thinking on risk assessment and take account of recent developments in toxicology and other relevant scientific areas such as microbiology, biotechnology, exposure assessment, food chemistry including analytical chemistry and assessment of maximum residue limits for veterinary drugs.

JECFA normally meets twice a year with individual agendas covering either (i) food additives, contaminants and naturally occurring toxicants in food or (ii) residues of veterinary drugs in food. The membership of the meetings varies accordingly, with different sets of experts being called on depending on the subject matter.