Principles of Risk Assessment of Food and Drinking Water Related to Human Health

ILSI Europe Concise Monograph

In the last five years the term risk assessment has probably been used more often in relation to the safety of food and chemicals than to any other compounds, behaviour and other phenomena. Indeed, the need to attain a more systematic approach in setting standards to assure safety is evident because calamities of all kinds occur regularly. The risk assessment paradigm, consisting of four steps (hazard identification, hazard characterisation, exposure assessment, and risk characterisation) to characterise a risk, will fulfill such a systematic approach when each step is described in detail, critically evaluated, refined where possible, and made accessible to a broad audience.

This monograph, published in the ILSI Europe Concise Monograph Series, describes the state of the science in the risk assessment process. Importantly, it considers biological and chemical agents and integrates chemical and microbial risk assessment wherever appropriate and feasible. Specific aspects of microbiological risk assessment are highlighted. Case studies illustrate each risk assessment step. Current needs for improvement in exposure assessment and hazard characterisation are described.

Quantitative risk assessment will be necessary to better characterize increasingly accepted risks and to compare these to other common existing risks. Risk Assessment should, however, not be seen as a separate entity but considered the scientific component of the total risk analysis process, where risk management, risk communication, and risk perception are additional important issues.

This concise monograph contains easily understood information useful to public health professionals, regulatory authorities, and scientists interested and involved in risk evaluation procedures.

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