WHO workshop on hazard characterization of pathogens in food and water, Bilthoven, The Netherlands, 13-18 June 2000
Held in collaboration with the National Institute of Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), a WHO Collaborating Centre for Food Safety, and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
Background and objectives
The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) have been in the forefront of the development of risk analysis for the management of public health risks related to hazards in food. As a result of this work, risk analysis is well established for chemical hazards. FAO and WHO intend to extend the experience and expertise developed from chemical risk assessment to microbiological hazards.
Risk assessment of microbiological hazards in foods had been identified as a priority area of work for the Codex Alimentarius Commission. At its 32nd session the Codex Committee on Food Hygiene (CCFH) identified a list of pathogen-commodity combinations that require expert risk assessment advice. In response, FAO and WHO, jointly launched a programme of work with the objective of providing expert advice on risk assessment of microbiological hazards in foods to their Member countries and to the Codex Alimentarius Commission. During the next two years, this programme of work will focus on an evaluation of the available information on risk assessment of Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat foods and Salmonella spp. in poultry and eggs. In relation to this WHO will be coordinate the hazard characterization aspect.
The assessments of risk from hazards in food and water have much in common. A common approach to microbiological hazards in food and water may accelerate development of the science and may also improve the quantity and quality of data available to conduct risk assessments. The hazard characterization step of risk assessment is the one most amenable to a common approach. WHO has been leading the development of risk analysis for the management of public health risks posed by hazards in water. The WHO Coordination Committee for the Revision of the Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality intends to use risk assessment as the basis for its drinking water quality guidelines. To this end, the WHO Water Sanitation and Health Programme will conduct a hazard characterization for Cryptosporidium parvum in water.
Following restructuring within WHO, the Programmes for Food Safety and Water Sanitation and Health are now both in the Department for Protection of the Human Environment. In order to build upon the synergies between these two programmes in WHO, Food Safety and Water Sanitation and Health Programmes will unify their approach to hazard characterization thus providing consistent results of risk assessments for food and waterborne hazards, leading to better utilization of risk assessment results by risk managers.
The primary purpose of this workshop is to begin a process for the development of practical guidelines on hazard characterization for microbiological hazards in food and water. In order to do this the workshop will compare and review the approaches used in hazard characterizations for several pathogens (Salmonella spp., Listeria monocytogenes, enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli, Cryptosporidium parvum and Norwalk-like viruses). Comparing the approaches used for these pathogens should illustrate the weaknesses and benefits of approaches used. Based on this information, the workshop will formulate general principles and guidelines for hazard characterization which will be published in a format similar to the Environmental Health Criteria documents.
The objective of this workshop is to develop guidelines on hazard characterization for microbiological hazards in food and water. Towards this aim, the workshop will:
- Review the state of the art in hazard characterization and relevant scientific disciplines: epidemiology, biomedical research, mathematical modelling, etc.
- Categorize the principles and methods of hazard characterization.
- Provide guidance on the type of data needed and the means of assessing the adequacy of available data for the development of dose-response relationships for specific pathogens.
- Identify future research requirements to reduce uncertainty of dose response models and default assumptions for use in the short-term.