Food safety

Risk communication

Risk communication is an interactive process of exchange of information and opinion on risk among risk assessors, risk managers, and other interested parties.

Risk communication is an integral and ongoing part of the risk analysis exercise, and ideally all stakeholder groups should be involved from the start. Risk communication makes stakeholders aware of the process at each stage of the Risk Assessment. This helps to ensure that the logic, outcomes, significance, and limitations of the Risk Assessment are clearly understood by all the stakeholders. Information may be available from the stakeholder. Industry stakeholders may, for example have unpublished data crucial to the risk assessors, which may be an essential part of the data needed for the risk assessment. There is also information that is typically presented to the stakeholders (both industry and consumers), as an integral part of the risk analysis process.

The identification of particular interest groups and their representatives should comprise a part of an overall risk communication strategy. This risk communication strategy should be discussed and agreed upon between risk assessors and managers early in the process to ensure two-way communication. This strategy should also cover who should present information to the public, and the manner in which it will be done.

Decisions on risk communication, including what, whom and how, should be part of an overall risk communication strategy. Risk communication is most effective if undertaken in a systematic way, and generally starts with the gathering of information on the risk issue of concern. Therefore the risk manager and risk assessor must be able to briefly and clearly summarize what this issue encompasses, at an early stage, in order to elicit interest and stakeholder input Communication must then continue throughout the entire process. Once available information has been used to fully identify the hazards, and decide on and assess the appropriate risks, then the preparation and dissemination of this information is required. This will be followed by further discussion with stakeholders, leading to corrections, amendments, and additions as appropriate, resulting in the final Risk Assessment and risk analysis reports.