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Alternatives to Laboratory Animals - ATLA

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The Role of Control Groups in Mutagenicity Studies: Matching Biological and Statistical Relevance

Dieter Hauschke, Torsten Hothorn and Juliane Schäfer

The statistical test of the conventional hypothesis of “no treatment effect” is commonly used in the evaluation of mutagenicity experiments. Failing to reject the hypothesis often leads to the conclusion in favour of safety. The major drawback of this indirect approach is that what is controlled by a prespecified level αis the probability of erroneously concluding hazard (producer risk). However, the primary concern of safety assessment is the control of the consumer risk, i.e. limiting the probability of erroneously concluding that a product is safe. In order to restrict this risk, safety has to be formulated as the alternative, and hazard, i.e. the opposite, has to be formulated as the hypothesis. The direct safety approach is examined for the case when the corresponding threshold value is expressed either as a fraction of the population mean for the negative control, or as a fraction of the difference between the positive and negative controls.