Microbiological Risk Assessment (MRA) has emerged as a comprehensive and systematic approach for addressing the risk of pathogens in specific foods and/or processes. At government level, MRA is increasingly recognised as a structured and objective approach to understand the level of risk in a given food/pathogen scenario. Tools developed so far support qualitative and quantitative assessments of the risk that a food pathogen poses to a particular population. Risk can be expressed as absolute numbers or as relative (ranked) risks. The food industry is beginning to appreciate that the tools for MRA can increase the understanding of microbiological risks in foods.
It is timely to inform food safety professionals about the availability and utility of MRA tools. Therefore, the focus of this report is to aid the food safety manager by providing a concise summary of the tools available for the MRA of food. Among the tools evaluated will be techniques to include expert judgement in MRAs, to characterise dose-response relationships, to model growth, survival and death of micro-organisms, to model the food chain or specific processes in it, and to integrate data from the various MRA stages. The information generated through conducting a risk assessment, such as a risk estimate, ranking of risks, identification of key controlling or risk-generating factors, or highlighting of data gaps,can assist governments in their role of setting national policies, criteria or providing public health advice, and also assist industry in their ambition to design innovative yet safe foods for consumers.
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