The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) has released draft guidance on the microbiological risks assessment (MRA) for food production and consumption.
The publication is a guide on the four components of a microbiological risk assessment on food including; hazard identification, hazard characterization, exposure assessment, and risk characterization.
The objective, according to the draft, is to provide Member Countries and Codex with practical guidelines and methodology for hazard characterization of microbial pathogens.
With science evolving over the last decade, the FAO and WHO set up the Joint Expert Meetings on Microbiological Risk Assessment (JEMRA) to provide advice on risk assessment of microbiological hazards in foods.
In 2014, they looked at 24 parasites in food and their public health and trade impact with work, including the development of a quantitative ranking tool using expert opinion.
Last year in March, both agencies consolidated and updated the existing documents on MRA into a single document, with experts reviewing the draft.
Comments on the draft are expected to come from a global community of scientists and risk managers or others responsible for decision making and/or communication.
On hazard identification, the document covers measures to assessing microbial hazards along the food supply chain which may pose risks to human health.
This phase involves the examination of the foodborne hazard and associated potential adverse health outcomes due to specific foodborne exposure.
Hazard characterization provides a description of the adverse effects that may result from the ingestion of a hazard, from microorganism to toxin.
Considering the direct effect on consumer exposure to hazard, the aim of the exposure assessment component is to deduce information on the probability and magnitude of exposure to food hazards.
From the draft, risk characterization will integrate the findings from the other three parts to estimate levels of risk, which can be used to make risk management decisions.
The consultation is expected to enable both agencies identify the knowledge gaps and information requirements needed to complete the above-mentioned risk assessments.