Food safety

Risk management

Risk management is the process of weighing policy alternatives to accept, minimize or reduce assessed risks and to select and implement appropriate options.

The four components of risk management frameworks can be summarized as follows:

  • Preliminary risk management activities comprise the initial process. It includes the establishment of a risk profile to facilitate consideration of the issue within a particular context, and provides as much information as possible to guide further action. As a result of this process, the risk manager may commission a risk assessment as an independent scientific process to inform decision-making.
  • Evaluation of risk management options is the weighing of available options for managing a food safety issue in light of scientific information on risks and other factors, and may include reaching a decision on an appropriate level of consumer protection. Optimization of food control measures in terms of their efficiency, effectiveness, technological feasibility and practicality at selected points throughout the food-chain is an important goal. A cost-benefit analysis could be performed at this stage.
  • Implementation of the risk management decision will usually involve regulatory food safety measures, which may include the use of HACCP. Flexibility in the choice of individual measures applied by industry is a desirable element, as long as the overall programme can be objectively shown to achieve the stated goals. Ongoing verification of the application of food safety measures is essential.
  • Monitoring and review is the gathering and analyzing of data so as to give an overview of food safety and consumer health. Monitoring of contaminants in food and foodborne disease surveillance should identify new food safety problems as they emerge. Where there is evidence that required public health goals are not being achieved, redesign of food safety measures will be needed.