Risk assessment of microbiological hazards in food, a joint FAO/WHO expert consultation, Geneva, Switzerland, 15-19 March 1999
The increase in international trade in food has increased the risk from cross-border transmission of infectious agents and underscores the need to use international risk assessment to estimate the risk that microbial pathogens pose to human health. The globalization and liberalization of world food trade, while offering many benefits and opportunities, also presents new risks. Because of the global nature of food production, manufacturing, and marketing, infectious agents can be disseminated from the original point of processing and packaging to locations thousands of miles away. Food safety in the late 20th century requires enhanced levels of international co-operation in setting standards and regulations. The Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures requires World Trade Organization Members to conduct science-based risk assessments, in setting limits for health risks in foods.
The report of a Joint FAO/WHO consultation on risk management and food safety concluded that the work of the Codex Committee on Food Hygiene would benefit from advice from an expert body on foodborne microbiological hazards for purposes of risk management. The report suggests that such a committee of experts could provide scientific advice on microbiological risk assessment similar to that provided by JECFA and JMPR on food additives, contaminants, veterinary drug residues and pesticide residues.
Upon the recommendation of the 22nd Session of the Codex Alimentarius Commission and the 45th Codex Executive Committee, FAO and WHO held a consultation of international experts with the following objectives:
- To examine current scientific knowledge concerning microbiological risk assessment for food and related issues.
- To make recommendations to FAO, WHO and Member governments on an overall strategy and framework for risk assessment of microbiological hazards.
- To make recommendations on methodologies for risk assessment suitable for use at an international level to estimate the risk that microbiological hazards pose to human health.
- To make recommendations on how risk management options may be developed and utilized by FAO, WHO and Member Governments.
- To suggest priority issues in risk assessment.