Hexavalent chromium (Cr(VI)) is toxic, carcinogenic, and mutagenic substances. Oral exposure to Cr(VI) is thought to be primarily from drinking water. However, under the certain reporting limit (~0.1 µg/L), percentage of Cr(VI) concentration in mineral water products under the reporting limit were estimated higher than 50%. Data whose values are below certain limits and thus cannot be accurately determined are known as left-censored. The high censored percentage leads to estimation of Cr(VI) exposure uncertain. It is well known that conventional substitution method often used in food analytical science cause severe bias. To estimate appropriate summary statistics on Cr(VI) concentration in mineral water products, parameter estimation using the Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) method under assumption of a lognormal distribution was performed. Stan, a probabilistic programming language, was used for MCMC. We evaluated the accuracy, coverage probability, and reliability of estimates with MCMC by comparison with other estimation methods (discard nondetects, substituting half of reporting limit, Kaplan-Meier, regression on order statistics, and maximum likelihood estimation) using 1000 randomly generated data subsets (n = 150) with the obtained parameters. The evaluation shows that MCMC is the best estimation method in this context with greater accuracy, coverage probability, and reliability over a censored percentage of 10-90%. The mean concentration, which was estimated with MCMC, was 0.289×10−3 mg/L and this value was sufficiently lower than the regulated value of 0.05 mg/L stipulated by the Food Sanitation Act.
To afford the future agenda of risk communication through an evaluation of the past, we examined the changes in risk perception in the food safety sector over the 15 years (2004–2018) since the establishment of the Food Safety Commission of Japan (FSCJ) in 2003 by analyzing the data of the food safety monitor survey. Hazards such as contaminants including cadmium, methylmercury and arsenic, and pesticide residues caused high levels of concern among the public in 2004. In contrast, hazards such as food poisoning by harmful microorganisms and so-called “Health foods” have been ranked high among concerns since 2008 and 2014, respectively. Scoring of concern levels showed that concern related to food additives and pesticide residues intentionally added to foods and controlled has gradually decreased in a time-dependent manner. These concern scores were considerably lower in male monitors than in female ones; the scores were also lower for individuals with professional experience in the food sector than without the experience. The concern scores for contaminants were lower for males with professional experience. The concern scores related to food poisoning and health foods were not decreased and were remained high in recent years. These scores did not show clear dependence on job experience or gender of the monitors. A gap between food specialists and other attributes in the basic recognition of risk seems to make it difficult to communicate effectively and constructively among various interested individuals. To improve the quality of risk communication in the food safety field, it will be necessary to provide scientific knowledge and information regarding food safety management mechanisms for individuals without professional experience in the food sector, taking into account the changes in information media and influence on risk perception.
Radionuclide contamination in foods has been a great concern after the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (FDNPP) accident. To estimate time trends of daily intake and annual committed effective dose of radionuclides after the accident, radioactive cesium (r-Cs; 134Cs and 137Cs) and potassium-40 (40K) in market basket (MB) samples prepared at 6-month intervals in periods from September 2013 to March 2019 in 15 regions of Japan were analyzed using γ-ray spectrometry. The annual committed effective dose of r-Cs, calculated at non-detected radionuclide levels assumed to be half the limit of detection (LOD), appeared to decrease gradually in 11 regions close to the FDNPP that were more likely to be affected by the accident. Differences in doses among the 15 regions were large just after the accident, but gradually decreased. In particular, 134Cs has not been detected in any MB sample in any region since September 2018, and annual committed effective dose from 134Cs in all regions was mostly constant at around 0.3 μSv/year (given the respective LODs). The maximum annual committed effective dose of r-Cs in this study was decreased from 2.7 μSv/year in September 2013 to 1.0 μSv/year in March 2019. In contrast, the range of annual committed effective dose of 40K varied from approximately 150 to 200 μSv/year during that time frame and did not change much throughout the period of this study. Although annual committed effective doses of r-Cs in regions close to the FDNPP appeared to be higher than in regions far from the FDNPP, doses in all regions are remaining at a much lower levels than the intervention exemption level, 1 mSv/year, in foods in Japan.
Food Safety Commission of Japan (FSCJ) was requested by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) to conduct a risk assessment of deoxynivalenol (DON) to assure the maximal level for DON in foods. Previously, FSCJ had conducted a self-tasking risk assessment of DON and nivalenol (NIV) in 2010. In the current 2nd edition, only the assessment of DON has been revised. Grains contaminated with DON may be also contaminated with its derivatives, namely, 3-acetyldeoxynivalenol (3-Ac-DON), 15-acetyldeoxynivalenol (15-Ac-DON) and deoxynivalenol-3-glucoside (DON-3-glucoside). However, these substances orally ingested are rapidly biotransformed into DON. Therefore, FSCJ identified the total DON (sum of DON and its derivatives) to be assessed. The toxicity of DON was assessed based on the data of absorption-distribution-metabolism-excretion (ADME), acute toxicity, sub-acute toxicity, chronic toxicity, carcinogenicity, reproductive/developmental toxicity, genotoxicity, and immunotoxicity. DON was considered to have no significant genotoxic activity in vivo. The no-observed-adverse-effect level (NOAEL), based on the two-year chronic toxicity study in mice, was set at 0.1 mg DON/kg bw/day. By applying an uncertainty factor (UF) of 100, the TDI for DON was determined as 1 µg /kg bw/day. The average estimated exposure levels of total DON were 0.09 µg /kg bw/day and 0.22 µg/kg bw/day in the whole population and the 1-6 years group, respectively, by the Monte-Carlo method. The average exposure level in Japan was thus judged to be below the TDI, although a chance to exceed the TDI remains possible in the 1-6 years group depending on eating habits and DON contamination. For NIV, the genotoxic property was not able to be assessed due to the limited availability of the experimental data. No carcinogenic effect was observed in a two-year chronic toxicity study in mice, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) also classifies Fusarium spp toxins including NIV to be in group 3. FSCJ thus judged that TDI can be set for NIV. Based on various toxicity studies, the TDI of NIV was determined at 0.4 µg/kg bw/day by taking into account of LOAEL 0.4 mg NIV/kg bw/day in a subacute toxicity study in rats with 90-day oral administration and UF of 1,000. The exposure level of NIV in Japan was estimated to be below the TDI. FSCJ judged it’s unlikely that NIV intake leads to adverse health effects in general population.