Committee on Carcinogenicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment

COC advises the government and government agencies on whether substances are likely to cause cancer.

Role of the group

COC provides independent advice to government departments and agencies on the potential carcinogenicity of chemicals used in pesticides, pharmaceuticals and other products.

Terms of reference

To advise at the request of:

  • Department of Health
  • Food Standards Agency
  • Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
  • Department for Transport
  • Department of Trade and Industry
  • Health and Safety Executive
  • Pesticides Safety Directorate
  • Veterinary Medicines Directorate
  • Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency
  • Environment Agency
  • Uk Health Security Agency
  • Home Office
  • Welsh Assembly Government
  • Scottish Executive
  • Northern Ireland Executive
  • other government departments and agencies.

To assess and advise on the carcinogenic risk to man of substances that are:

  • used or proposed to be used as food additives, or used in such a way that they might contaminate food through their use or natural occurrence in agriculture, including horticulture and veterinary practice or in the distribution, storage, preparation, processing or packaging of food
  • used or proposed to be used or manufactured or produced in industry, agriculture, food storage or any other workplace
  • used or proposed to be used as household goods or toilet goods and preparations
  • used or proposed to be used as drugs, when advice is requested by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency
  • used or proposed to be used or disposed of in such a way as to result in pollution of the environment

To advise on important general principles or new scientific discoveries in connection with carcinogenic risks, to co-ordinate with other bodies concerned with the assessment of carcinogenic risks and to present recommendations for carcinogenicity testing.


Current members are:

  • Chair, Professor David Harrison (Professor of Pathology, University of St. Andrews)
  • Professor Gareth Jenkins (Professor of Molecular Carcinogenesis, Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Science, Swansea University)
  • Mr Amit Bhagwat (Lay Member)
  • Dr Meera Cush (Senior Managing Consultant, Regulatory Toxicologist, Ramboll)
  • Dr Ruth Dempsey (Consultant in Toxicology, RD Science Speaks Consultancy, Sàrl)
  • Dr Richard Haworth (Head of UK Pathology, Clinical Pharmacology and Safety Sciences, AstraZeneca)
  • Professor Neil Pearce (Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine)
  • Ms Juliet Rix (Lay Member)
  • Dr Lesley Stanley (Consultant in Investigative Toxicology)


Calendar of meetings

Additional joint committee meetings

Minutes from previous meetings

Minutes for meetings in 2013 are available on the UK government web archive.

Minutes for meetings before 2013 are on the archived IACOC website, courtesy of the UK government web archive.

Open meetings

COC holds open meetings to increase the visibility and transparency of its work. To attend a meeting as an observer, you will need to send an open meetings application form to the secretariat and follow the code of conduct for observers.

COC open meeting application form (MS Word Document, 32.1 KB)
COC code of conduct for observers (PDF, 172 KB, 1 page)


COC publishes its advice as statements and guidance statements.

COC publishes a joint annual report with the Committee on Toxicity (COT) and the Committee on Mutagenicity (COM): see annual reports.

Older publications including annual reports are available on the National Archives website.


Dr Cath Mulholland (FSA Scientific Secretary)

Miss Britta Gadeberg (UKHSA Scientific Secretary)



COC Secretariat
Public Health England
Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards
OX11 0RQ