Critical notes on microbiological risk assessment of food

M.W. Reij, M. van Schothorst

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Although numerous papers on Microbiological Risk Assessment (MRA) of food products have been published, a number of issues related to it remain unresolved. This paper explains the role of Microbiological Risk Assessment in the context of Risk Analysis as outlined by Codex Alimentarius. It reviews some representative work in the area, with particular emphasis on the objectives, outputs and conclusions of the studies, and on how researchers propose using the resulting Risk Estimate for decision making. Several problems and sources of confusion concerning MRA are identified, such as terminology, the application of Risk Estimates to establish Food Safety Objectives and microbiological criteria for foods, lack of data, and the difference between Risk Assessment and the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point system (HACCP). In the context of Codex Alimentarius, MRA was developed as a tool for decision making and priority setting by government risk managers. However, elements of Risk Assessment can be used for other purposes. A transparent description of a Risk Assessment study is useful for Risk Communication. Industrial food safety managers can compare the effect of various hypothetical production scenarios using estimates of the level and the probability of a pathogen in the product at the time that it is consumed. This limited form of Risk Assessment could better be called Safety Assessment, and can be used as a tool for food product and process development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
JournalBrazilian Journal of Microbiology
Publication statusPublished - 2000

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