Improved family-wise error rate control in multiple equivalence testing

Gwenaël G.R. Leday*, Jesse Hemerik, Jasper Engel, Hilko van der Voet

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Equivalence testing is an important component of safety assessments, used for example by the European Food Safety Authority, to allow new food or feed products on the market. The aim of such tests is to demonstrate equivalence of characteristics of test and reference crops. Equivalence tests are typically univariate and applied to each measured analyte (characteristic) separately without multiplicity correction. This increases the probability of making false claims of equivalence (type I errors) when evaluating multiple analytes simultaneously. To solve this problem, familywise error rate (FWER) control using Hochberg's method has been proposed. This paper demonstrates that, in the context of equivalence testing, other FWER-controlling methods are more powerful than Hochberg's. Particularly, it is shown that Hommel's method is guaranteed to perform at least as well as Hochberg's and that an “adaptive” version of Bonferroni's method, which uses an estimator of the proportion of non-equivalent characteristics, often substantially outperforms Hommel's method. Adaptive Bonferroni takes better advantage of the particular context of food safety where a large proportion of true equivalences is expected, a situation where other methods are particularly conservative. The different methods are illustrated by their application to two compositional datasets and further assessed and compared using simulated data.

Original languageEnglish
Article number113928
JournalFood and Chemical Toxicology
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023


  • Equivalence testing
  • Familywise error
  • Food safety
  • Multiple testing
  • Type I error


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