EUROPE – In a move towards ethical and scientific advancement, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has unveiled TKPlate, a platform set to transform the landscape of food safety assessments.
TKPlate is designed to model and predict the toxicity and toxicokinetics of chemicals used in foods, presenting a revolutionary alternative to traditional animal testing methods.
Led by toxicologist Jean-Lou Dorne, Ph.D., and statistician/modeler Jose Cortiñas Abrahantes, Ph.D., both from EFSA, TKPlate offers an online space equipped with a suite of tools that empower scientists and regulators to forecast toxicokinetic and toxicodynamic (toxicity) properties.
This platform marks a crucial step in embracing the Three Rs principle—replace, reduce, and refine animal testing.
The genesis of TKPlate can be traced back to 2014 when a scientific report proposed alternative methods to animal testing. Over the subsequent years (2015-2020), EFSA meticulously developed toxicokinetic models and conducted numerous case studies for various species, including humans, test animals, farm animals, and other species in the food and feed chain.
TKPlate stands out as a unique platform in the food and feed safety sector, allowing risk assessors and toxicologists to model toxicokinetic and toxicodynamic processes for multiple species.
Its user-friendly interface enables scientists to select a species, choose specific chemicals, input exposure parameters, and generate automated reports—eliminating the need for extensive animal experiments.
The platform calculates chemical concentrations within an organism based on intake levels (toxicokinetics) and predicts potential effects (toxicodynamics), thereby reducing reliance on animal data.
Moreover, TKPlate can estimate an organism’s exposure to a chemical by inputting existing data like blood or urine concentrations. The platform incorporates features such as toxicokinetic-toxicodynamic modeling and a tool for assessing risks from chemical mixtures.
Despite the complexity of developing these models, EFSA assures their reliability. The models are built on a conceptual framework capturing how a substance interacts with an organism. Transparent reporting of variabilities and uncertainties, along with rigorous testing and validation, adds credibility to the models.
While TKPlate has recently been launched and is yet to be integrated into EFSA’s assessments, its potential applications are being explored.
EFSA plans to optimize the platform, provide training to staff and experts, and eventually incorporate it into risk assessments. The agency also envisions extending support for TKPlate implementation to other EU agencies and national authorities, marking a significant leap forward in the food safety landscape.