Researchers develop risk-ranking system for food safety
Source of Article: http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/Quality-Safety/Researchers-develop-risk-ranking-system-for-food-safety
By Caroline Scott-Thomas, 18-Feb-2009
The Institute of Food
Technologists has collaborated with the US Food and Drug
Administration to create risk assessment software to rank different foods in
terms of their relative safety.
Food safety has been
at the top of the agenda in the US lately, following a spate of food safety
scares, most recently the salmonella outbreak linked to peanut products.
Reliable ways to assess risks at different points of the food chain are vital
in preventing this kind of public health
The researchers wrote
in the latest Journal of Food Science that although there are
food safety risk assessments available, they are not typically designed to
quantitatively compare and rank risks of different food safety hazards.
They said that this is due to the complexity of the calculations and
They aimed to simplify
this process, by developing a system that analyzes different doses of
microbes and chemicals and relates them to their potential impact on public
framework is designed to help food safety policy makers and risk analysts to
assess the comparative potential risk to public health of different combinations
of specific hazards and foods.
The researchers wrote:
“A well-conceived strategic approach to public health protection that
quickly and accurately identifies different types of hazards, ranks them by
level of importance, and identifies approaches with the greatest potential to
reduce hazards is critically needed.”
Although it is still
in the prototype stage, the researchers claim that the system addresses this
It has been designed
to generate risk report summaries that can take into account per capita
consumption of foods according to different population groups, and it
considers three stages of the food production process: Primary production;
processing; and distribution, storage, retail and home. It also allows the
user to assess how likely it is that a hazard will be introduced at each
The researchers hope
that the use of the risk ranking system could help policy makers and risk
managers to evaluate the potential to establish control points on different
foods’ paths from farm to fork.
production of this risk-ranking prototype holds tremendous potential as a
unique tool capable of comparing microbial hazards and chemical hazards not
only separately but also comparatively,” they wrote.
The researchers then
tested various hazard-food pairs against its prototype system – such as
arsenic and smoked salmon, listeria and milk, and
salmonella and raw oysters – in order to show that the system’s calculations
Source: Journal of
Food Science, Vol. 00, Nr. 00, 2009
“Development of a
Risk-Ranking Framework to Evaluate Potential High-Threat Microorganisms,
Toxins, and Chemicals in Food”
Authors: R. Newsome,
N. Tran, G.M. Paoli, L.A.
Jaykus, B. Tompkin, M. Miliotis, T. Ruthman, E. Hartnett,
F.F. Busta, B. Petersen, F. Shank, J. McEntire, J. Hotchkiss, M. Wagner, D.W. Schaffner.