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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 FAO Headquarters, Rome, Italy on 30 April - 4 May 2001. The list of participants is presented in Annex 1.

Mr Hartwig de Haen, Assistant Director-General, Economic and Social Department in FAO opened the consultation on behalf of the two sponsoring organizations. In welcoming the participants Mr de Haen stated that the assessment of risk associated with microbiological hazards presents unique features due to the nature of these hazards. Microbiological hazards in foods are currently one of the most significant challenges internationally and therefore, must be assessed scientifically in order to provide appropriate information for decision-making both at the national and international levels. He emphasized that FAO and WHO are committed to providing a neutral international forum to address microbiological risk assessment as well as providing assistance to their member countries in this area.

He noted the importance of the work of the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) and the FAO/WHO risk assessment programme in relation to the World Trade Organizations' (WTO) Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS). Mr de Haen also informed the expert consultation of some of the forthcoming FAO and WHO activities to which this work can contribute, such as the Global Forum for Food Safety Regulators that will take place in October this year and the Pan-European Conference on Food Safety and Quality that will be convened in 2002.

In concluding, Mr de Haen expressed the appreciation of FAO and WHO to the experts who were members of the drafting groups and who had worked for many months in the preparation of the documents for the consultation. He expressed the wish that the sound scientific basis which they had created would be further built on during the expert consultation to produce a useful product for FAO and WHO member countries and for the CAC.

The consultation elected Prof Jean-Louis Jouve (France) as Chairperson of the expert consultation and Dr Michael Doyle (United States) as Vice-Chairperson. Dr Lone Gram (Denmark) was elected as Rapporteur. The consultation also appointed a chairperson and rapporteur for each of the working groups. Prof Jean-Louis Jouve and Dr Olivier Cerf (France) were nominated as Chairperson and Rapporteur, respectively, for the working group on Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat foods. Dr Michael Doyle and Dr David Jordan (Australia) were nominated as Chairperson and Rapporteur, respectively, for the working group on Salmonella spp. in eggs and broiler chickens.

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