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Risk management and food safety

Food and Nutrition Paper 65











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    Book (stand-alone)
    The application of risk communication to food standards and safety matters 1999
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    Risk communication was defined by the March 1995 Consultation on the Application of Risk Analysis to Food Safety Issues as “an interactive process of exchange of information and opinion on risk among risk assessors, risk managers, and other interested parties”. The practical application of risk communication in relation to food safety involves all aspects of communications among risk assessors, risk managers and the public. This includes the mechanisms of delivery; message content; timeliness of the communication; the availability and use of supporting materials and information; and the purpose, credibility and meaningfulness of the communication. With increased public concern regarding food safety, greater demands are placed on risk communicators to involve the public and other interested parties in an interactive dialogue and to explain the magnitude and severity of risks associated with foodborne hazards in clear and comprehensible terms that convey credibility and trustworthin ess. This requires communicators to recognize and overcome gaps in knowledge as well as obstacles inherent in the uncertainties of scientific risk assessment.
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    Ensuring efficient communication and interaction between food safety risk assessors and risk managers 2002
    The experts of the WHO Expert Consultation submitted the following principal comments: 1. Food Safety Authorities in Member Countries should structure their food safety system(s) on a risk-based approach that includes appropriate communication and interaction between risk assessors, risk managers, and stakeholders. 2. The functional separation of risk assessment and risk management is essential to the conduct of risk analysis activities. 3. Independence, transparency, and robustness o f the scientific analyses and advice are essential determinants of their credibility. Nonetheless, effective dialogue among risk assessors, risk managers, and other stakeholders is essential to maximize the utility of the assessment findings and to ensure that both scientific and societal goals are met. Concerning the interactions between risk managers and risk assessors, the terminology adopted or under discussion of the FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Commission is used. The same applies to the d escription of risk analysis.
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    The Need to complete and apply a coherent set of principles for managin food safety risks in all nations 2002
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    Consumers International supports the development of comprehensive "working principles for risk analysis," to support transparent food safety decision-making processes at both the international and national levels. Consistent, harmonized principles offer the promise of ensuring a high standard of health protection and food safety for consumers in all parts of the world, while avoiding creating unjustified trade barriers. The Codex Alimentarius Commission and several of its subsidiary bodies are c urrently developing consensus principles for risk analysis, and completion of that work is an urgent priority. Many opportunities for further progress in advancing risk management through sound principles are identified in this paper. They include spelling out more detailed principles for risk management of specific food safety problems, and expanding the Codex principles to make them useful as guidelines for national governments. A broader consensus is needed on clear principles for the applica tion of precaution and on the roles of science and non-scientific other factors in food safety risk management. And the scientific advisory system on which Codex and many national governments rely for risk assessments needs to be expanded and improved, to increase the quantity and quality of risk assessments to keep pace with demand.

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