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The process of developing hazard characterization guidelines was initiated at a workshop hosted by the WHO Collaborating Centre for Food Safety, National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), Bilthoven, the Netherlands, 13-18 June 2000. The workshop participants were scientists actively involved in hazard characterization of food or waterborne pathogens in humans or animals. The document drafted during this workshop was reviewed at a series of expert meetings concerned with food and water safety, including:

A subsequent draft of the guidelines, incorporating these comments, was posted on the FAO and WHO Web sites, with a request for public comments. The draft guidelines were also circulated for peer review. The guidelines were then finalized, taking into consideration all comments received.

These guidelines have been written for an informed audience, and may be used in different contexts. In an international context, the guidelines will provide guidance for hazard characterizations conducted by the Ad hoc Joint Expert Meetings on Microbiological Risk Assessment and in the development of the WHO Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality (GDWQ). At the national level, they will provide guidance for hazard characterizations conducted for government and regulatory authorities.

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