Exposure assessment of microbiological hazards in food - joint FAO/WHO workshop. Seattle, USA, 5 - 9 December 2001
Background and objectives
Risk assessment of microbiological hazards in foods (MRA) has been identified as a priority area of work by the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC). Following the work of the Codex Committee on Food Hygiene (CCFH), the CAC adopted Principles and Guidelines for the Conduct of Microbiological Risk Assessment (CAC/GL-30 (1999)) in 1999. Subsequently, at it 32nd session, the CCFH identified a number of areas in which it requires expert risk assessment advice. At the international level it should also be noted that the WTO Agreement on the Implementation of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures requires members to ensure that their measures are based on an assessment of the risks, as appropriate to the circumstances, taking into account the risk assessment techniques developed by the relevant international organizations.
In response therefore to the needs of the CAC and their member countries, FAO and WHO, launched a programme of work with the objective of providing expert advice on risk assessment of microbiological hazards in foods. To date work is ongoing on risk assessment of Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat foods, Salmonella spp. in broiler chickens and eggs, Vibrio spp. in seafoods and Campylobacter spp. on broiler chickens. The purpose of this work is to provide an overview of the relevant available information as well as the risk assessments that have already been undertaken, use the available information to address the needs of the CCFH and to develop risk assessment tools for use by member countries.
In relation to this FAO and WHO are also developing guidelines documents for undertaking each of the four components of a risk assessment namely hazard identification, hazard characterization, exposure assessment and risk characterization. To date draft guidelines for hazard characterization of pathogens in food and water have been prepared and these are currently under review. FAO and WHO are now planning the development of practical guidelines for exposure assessment of microbiological hazards in foods. The need for such guidelines has been highlighted in the work being undertaken by FAO and WHO on risk assessment of specific pathogen-commodity combinations and it is recognized that the reliable estimate of exposure represents one of the most challenging steps in risk assessment.
The primary purpose of this workshop is to develop practical guidelines on exposure assessment for microbiological hazards in food. In order to do this the workshop will compare and review the approaches used in several recent risk assessments. As data availability and characteristics are key factors particular attention will be given to the types of the data that are currently available, the types of data that are needed, the comparability of data, accessibility of data etc. Based on this information, the workshop will formulate general principles and practical guidelines for the conduct of exposure assessment of microbiological hazards.
The objective of this workshop is to develop of guidelines for exposure assessment of microbiological hazards in food. Towards this goal, the workshop will:
- Review the state of the art in exposure assessment.
- Categorize the principles and methods of exposure assessment.
- Provide guidance on the types of data needed, the means of assessing the adequacy, comparability and validity of available data for the development of exposure assessments.
- Provide guidance on the modelling approaches.
- Identify future research requirements to reduce uncertainty of exposure assessment models.