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"To the pots, set, go!" - BfR MEAL Study launches field phase

44/2016, 20.10.2016

BfR opens the kitchen of the world's most comprehensive Total Diet Study (TDS)

To mark the start of the field phase for the BfR MEAL Study, the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is opening the purpose-designed study kitchen today with a "Science Lunch". In the BfR MEAL Study (Mahlzeiten für die Expositionsschätzung und Analytik von Lebensmitteln - meals for the exposure assessment and analysis of foods), a representative range of foods in ready-to-eat condition will be systematically analysed in Germany for the first time. "The study funded to the tune of around 13 million euros by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) will enable us to determine even more exactly which health-promoting or undesirable substances are actually contained in our foods following processing, storage and preparation. This is a first TDS for Germany and makes a key contribution towards ensuring sound nutrition recommendations," says Christian Schmidt, Federal Minister of Food and Agriculture. "In my role as the Minister responsible for consumer health protection, my goal is to achieve the best possible protection against health risks resulting from foods. We already have a high food safety standard in Germany and Europe, and we are improving food safety all the time - with research projects such as the BfR MEAL Study". BfR President Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel is keen to emphasise that "compared to other Total Diet Studies, the BfR MEAL Study is the most comprehensive study worldwide, in terms of both the number of analysed foods and the number of substances." The term "Total Diet Study (TDS)" is used to describe an international method to determine the average concentrations in which substances are contained in food. The BfR MEAL Study is the first Total Diet Study in Germany. Dr. Maria Flachsbarth, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL), is also attending the event to mark the official launch of the field phase. Today, the BfR is uploading a film (in german) on the BfR MEAL Study to its website at

One of the central objectives of the BfR MEAL Study is to generate concentration data that are representative for the German population for both desirable and undesirable substances in the diet. For this purpose, the BfR MEAL Study covers the full range of foods and analyses meals in the same condition as they are typically consumed. For each food group, the scientists create a representative pool from samples of the prepared foods. These samples are then tested in laboratories for various substance groups - both those being beneficial to health as well as those that are undesirable. The study will include food additives and process contaminants, substances from the environment (environmental contaminants, such as dioxin), mycotoxins, nutrients, plant protection products, pharmacologically active substances and substances that migrate from food packaging material. In addition, the study is also examining the extent to which the average concentrations of substances vary in food depending on region, season or production method (e.g. organic or conventional cultivation).

The BfR was commissioned by and receives funding from the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) to conduct the first TDS for Germany. The BfR MEAL Study will be conducted over the course of seven years. Initial results for individual substance groups are expected in early 2019. The aim of the BfR MEAL Study is to better identify the potential risks of foods for the German population.

During today’s Science Lunch, "rbb" radio presenter Marco Seiffert (radioeins) will explain the schedule and content of the BfR MEAL Study with the help of BfR experts. Through the commentary on stage, guests learn about the motivation and challenges of analysing foods with each prepared dish. In line with the motto "To the pots, set, go!", guests then have the opportunity to inspect the approx. 150 m² kitchen set up specifically for the study.

More information (in German) at

About the BfR

The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is a scientifically independent institution within the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) in Germany. It advises the Federal Government and Federal Laender on questions of food, chemical and product safety. The BfR conducts its own research on topics that are closely linked to its assessment tasks.

This text version is a translation of the original German text which is the only legally binding version.


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