PlantLIBRA: Plant food supplements: levels of intake, benefit and risk assessment

Summary

PlantLIBRA (PLANT food supplements: Levels of Intake, Benefit and Risk Assessment) is a co-financed project within the EU 7th Framework Program.  It aims to foster the safe use of food supplements containing plants or botanical preparations by increasing science-based decision-making by regulators and food chain operators.  The project is designed to develop, validate and disseminate data and methodologies for risk and benefit assessment and implement sustainable international cooperation.

Objectives

Plant food supplements (PFS), or botanicals, are well accepted by European consumers and potentially offer significant health benefits safely and at relatively low costs. Although new  EFSA guidance and regulations are now in place concerns remain about the safety, quality and efficacy of these products, as do bottlenecks in risk and benefit assessments which must  be addressed.

To make informed decisions authorities and food businesses need better tools and access to reliable information . PlantLIBRA's mission is to develop, validate and disseminate data and methodologies for risk and benefit assessment and implement sustainable international cooperation. The project spans 4 continents and 25 partners, uniting leading academics, Small and medium-sized enterprises, industry and non-profit organisations in integrating diverse scientific expertise into a single “science of botanicals”.

The University of Surrey is involved in assessing intake of PFS across Europe; it also leads a work package on consumer and stakeholder perceptions of PFS to be conducted in the UK, Romania and Italy. This will comprise desk research and  interviews with key stakeholders involved in the PFS area on the types of information available to consumers. It will also utilise mental model research to study how experts and consumers think about PFS.  This will be followed up by a survey across several countries investigating consumer beliefs about PFS and an experimental study on the impact of information about PFS on risk and benefit perceptions.

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