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Last update: May 2021

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PhD thesis of Géraldine Boué

Géraldine Boué
Development of an integrative methodology of risk-benefit assessment in food considering its chemical, microbiological and nutritional components (J.M. Membré, J.P. Antignac (Laberca), S. Guillou)


The objective of the present PhD project was to develop a conceptual and methodological framework to assess quantitatively the overall impact of food on human health, including microbiological, chemical and nutritional dimensions.

This methodology was developed using a case study on infant milk-based diet (breast milk and infant formulas) taking into account the following selected factors: Cronobacter sakazakii, Cryptosporidium, arsenic, dioxin like polychlorinated biphenyls and docosahexaenoic acid. Five probabilistic mathematical models were developed to quantify risks / benefits associated with these factors. When possible, they were harmonised using a common public health indicator, the DALY. Results were obtained by second-order Monte Carlo simulation in order to quantify separately the uncertainty and the variability.

Probabilistic techniques enabled to take into account on the one hand the biology related to variability (heterogeneity between individuals of the same population) and on the other hand the uncertainty linked to the lack of knowledge and data. In addition, separation of variability and uncertainty strengthened the evaluation by enabling a more accurate interpretation of results and by providing more comprehensive information for policy makers.

The method used in this PhD thesis can be considered as a robust basis for other case studies and can be used to continue methodological development in risk-benefit assessment. This approach is also part of a broader area: the multi-criteria decision analysis of agronomic and food systems.

Valorisation :

  • Boué, G., S. Guillou, J. P. Antignac, B. Le Bizec and J.-M. Membré 2015. Public health Risk-Benefit Assessment associated with food consumption – A review. European Journal of Nutrition & Food Safety 5(1): 32-58.
  • Boué, G., E. Cummins, S. Guillou, J.-P. Antignac, B. Le Bizec and J.-M. Membré 2017. Development and Application of a Probabilistic Risk–Benefit Assessment Model for Infant Feeding Integrating Microbiological, Nutritional, and Chemical Components. Risk Analysis 37(12): 2360-2388. Ranking du JCR: Q1.
  • Boué, G., E. Cummins, S. Guillou, J.-P. Antignac, B. Le Bizec and J.-M. Membré 2018. Public health risks and benefits associated with breast milk and infant formula consumption. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition(58): 126-145. Ranking du JCR: Q1.
  • Boué, G., L. A. Wasiewska, E. Cummins, J. P. Antignac, B. Le Bizec, S. Guillou and J. M. Membré 2018. Development of a Cryptosporidium-arsenic multi-risk assessment model for infant formula prepared with tap water in France. Food Research International 108: 558-570. Ranking du JCR: Q1.