The identification of hazards and the calculation of the associated risks are central = risk components of ensuring food safety and safeguarding public health. In food processing, a hazard can be in the form of a biological, chemical, allergenic or physical substance that has the potential to harm a consumer. The seriousness and immediacy of threats vary by hazard. Some situations can be more hazardous than others depending on the levels, sizes, quantities, or doses of unwanted substances or conditions.
Risk is a measure of the likelihood of a hazard causing harm and the severity of that harm. Or, another way of looking at it is to consider risk an estimate of the probability of a hazard being present. The categorisation of a risk can be done by combining the likelihood of occurrence in a matrix with the severity of the consequence.
Likelihood of occurrence can be described as the frequency of a specific hazard in a specific food. Drivers for the likelihood differ for each raw material or product. However, examples of common key drivers of this are:
Severity of the issue (safety or quality) can be described as the potential of the hazard to adversely impact on consumers. This would relate to, for example, the seriousness of an illness known to be caused by the hazard, for example, the toxicity of a given adulterant.
Creme Global has developed a comprehensive and evidence-based scientific process to prioritise and evaluate food safety and quality risks. Chemical hazard risk scoring methods or ranking methods range from qualitative expert based approaches to more data-driven quantitative scoring systems. Our method follows a quantitative approach; specifically, a hazard index or risk ratio which compares the estimated exposure to a contaminant with one of its toxicological endpoints. For biological hazards, Creme Global uses a “top-down” epidemiological approach rather than a “bottom-up” microbiological approach for estimating illness. This top down approach to estimating illnesses due to pathogen- food combinations implemented by Creme Global begins with records of illnesses and traces these illnesses back to food origin. This is distinguished from conventional bottom up risk-assessment approaches, which use food contamination data, predictive microbiology, and consumption patterns to estimate illnesses.