The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) convened an Expert Consultation on Risk Assessment of Microbiological Hazards in Foods in WHO Headquarters, Geneva, Switzerland from 23 - 27 July 2001. The list of participants is presented in Annex 1.
Dr Jørgen Schlundt, Coordinator, Food Safety Programme, Department of Promotion of the Human Environment, Sustainable Development and Healthy Environments Cluster in WHO opened the consultation on behalf of the two sponsoring organizations. In welcoming the participants Dr Schlundt stated that FAO and WHO are in the forefront of the development of risk based approaches for the management of public health hazards in food. In doing so, they are extending the experience and expertise developed in risk assessment of chemical hazards to microbiological hazards.
There is heightened global awareness of microbiological food safety and the need to reduce significantly the occurrence of foodborne illnesses. Dr Schlundt noted that the highest governing body of WHO, the World Health Assembly, recognized this fact when it met in May 2000 and for the first time issued a resolution that focused on the microbiological problems relating to food safety. The resolution also highlighted the need for science based involvement of public health considerations within the future standardization work in this area. Dr Schlundt also highlighted the activities of the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) in the area of microbiological risk assessment. In response to requests from the CAC as well as to the needs of their member countries, FAO and WHO had embarked on a programme of activities with the objective of conducting risk assessments on specific pathogen-commodity combinations.
The consultation elected Dr. Servé Notermans (the Netherlands) as Chairperson of the expert consultation. Dr Henrik Wegener (Denmark) was appointed as Rapporteur. The consultation also appointed a chairperson and rapporteur for each of the working groups. Professor Tom Humphrey (United Kingdom) and Dr. George Nasinyama (Uganda) were nominated as Chairperson and Rapporteur respectively for the working group on Campylobacter spp. in broiler chickens. Professor Tom McMeekin (Australia) and Dr Ron Lee (United Kingdom) were nominated as Chairperson and Rapporteur respectively for the working group on Vibrio spp. in seafood.