Keywords: food safety objectives, pathogens, risk analysis, quantitative risk assessment, risk management, foodborne biological hazards, pathogenic bacteria, viruses, parasites, policy change
The role of quantitative risk assessment in the management of foodborne biological hazards
Quantitative Risk Assessment (QRA) models have been used to assess the potential human exposure to, and assist in devising risk management strategies for, many foodborne hazards, including pathogenic bacteria, viruses and parasites. Mathematical models have played a vital role in the control and management of these microbes and have resulted in an increased understanding of their transmission and exposure pathways. QRA offers a structured approach and framework for predicting the impact of production, process and consumer behaviour changes on pathogenicity, and can also direct future research needs. This has enabled a more accurate description of the underlying parameters affecting biological hazards and associated risks, and is a valuable tool for assessing the impact of risk reduction strategies on public health. QRA enables policy decisions and Food Safety Objectives (FSOs) to be formulated based on the best available scientific evidence, enabling policymakers to make effective legislative decisions while accounting for system uncertainty. This paper focuses on the role played by QRA in the management and control of foodborne biological hazards, the risk assessment process, its impact on policy change and future role in minimising human risks from foodborne biological hazards.