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Application of Elements of Microbiological Risk Assessment in the Food Industry Via a Tiered Approach

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Food safety control is a matter for concern for all parts of the food supply chain, including governments that develop food safety policy, food industries that must control potential hazards, and consumers who need to keep to the intended use of the food. In the future, food safety policy may be set using the framework of risk analysis, part of which is the development of (inter)national microbiological risk assessment (MRA) studies. MRA studies increase our understanding of the impact of risk management interventions and of the relationships among subsequent parts of food supply chains with regard to the safety of the food when it reaches the consumer. Application of aspects of MRA in the development of new food concepts has potential benefits for the food industry. A tiered approach to applying MRA can best realize these benefits. The tiered MRA approach involves calculation of microbial fate for a product and process design on the basis of experimental data (e.g., monitoring data on prevalence) and predictive microbiological models. Calculations on new product formulations and novel processing technologies provide improved understanding of microbial fate beyond currently known boundaries, which enables identification of new opportunities in process design. The outcome of the tiered approach focuses on developing benchmarks of potential consumer exposure to hazards associated with new products by comparison with exposure associated with products that are already on the market and have a safe history of use. The tiered prototype is a tool to be used by experienced microbiologists as a basis for advice to product developers and can help to make safety assurance for new food concepts transparent to food inspection services.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Unilever Research and Development, Foods Research Centre, P.O. Box 114, 3130 AC, Vlaardingen, The Netherlands 2: Unilever, Safety and Environmental Assurance Centre, Colworth House, Sharnbrook, United Kingdom

Publication date: September 1, 2004

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    The Journal of Food Protection (JFP) is a refereed monthly publication. Each issue contains scientific research and authoritative review articles reporting on a variety of topics in food science pertaining to food safety and quality. The Journal is internationally recognized as the leading publication in the field of food microbiology with a readership exceeding 11,000 scientists from 70 countries. The Journal of Food Protection is indexed in Index Medicus, Current Contents, BIOSIS, PubMed, Medline, and many others.

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