Is animal-free testing for food on the horizon?

Safety assessments to evaluate the presence and levels of chemicals in food and feed have traditionally relied on evidence from animal testing. Safety testing with animals has been the gateway between food development and approval for decades, confirming a product’s risk profile and providing a green light for safe consumption.

Now, a new way to test for chemicals and food safety has arrived, prompting questions on whether the food industry can reduce or stop animal testing entirely. In a highly-criticised area of food production, scientists and broader society consider the ethical reasons and scientific validity of using animals to test the toxicity of chemicals in food.  

“Society and scientists want food, feed, and the environment to be safe from chemical harm without using animal testing, not only to reduce animal suffering but also because mice and other test animals are not the same as humans,”​ a European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) spokesperson told FoodNavigator. 

The launch of TKPlate: An animal-free testing alternative

The ESFA has launched TKPlate​, a new platform that proposes food safety testing without using animals. The potential testing method models and predicts chemical toxicity and its impact on humans and animals. TKPlate is an alternative tool designed to deliver more representative information on toxicokinetics (TK), which relates to how the body manages chemicals, and toxicity/toxicodynamics (TD), regarding what chemicals do to the body.

TKPlate’s introduction into the food safety space follows efforts to promote the 3Rs of animal testing: Replace, reduce and refine. The new tool’s main objectives are to increase the quality and relevance of information gathered and to reduce the need for animal testing.