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1. Introduction

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) convened an expert consultation on "Risk assessment of Campylobacter spp. in broiler chickens and Vibrio spp. in seafood" in the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (RAP), Bangkok, Thailand on 5 - 9 August 2002. The list of participants is presented in Annex 1.

Mr Dong Qingsong, FAO Deputy Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific and Officer-in-charge, RAP, opened the meeting on behalf of the two sponsoring organizations. In welcoming the participants Mr Qingsong noted the increasing significance of microbiological hazards in relation to food safety. He noted that international trade had amplified the opportunity for these hazards to be disseminated from the original point of production to locations thousands of miles away, thereby permitting such food safety hazards to impact on public health and trade in more than one country. Mr Qingsong observed that this underlined the need to first consider microbiological hazards at the international level and provide the means by which they can then be addressed at regional and national levels. He highlighted the commitment of FAO and WHO to provide a neutral international forum to consider new approaches to achieving food safety, and in particular to address microbiological risk assessment.

As the meeting was convened in Asia, Mr Qingsong also highlighted the importance of the work on microbiological risk assessment for this region. He noted that seafood and poultry are important products in both domestic and international trade and provide a valuable contribution to the economy of the region. He also noted the concerns for public health raised by the microbiological hazards associated with these foods. Therefore, in conclusion he requested the expert consultation to consider, in particular, the practical application of their work so that the output would be of value to a range of end users and to countries in different stages of development.

The consultation appointed Dr Servé Notermans (the Netherlands) as chairperson of the consultation and Ms Dorothy-Jean McCoubrey (New Zealand) as rapporteur. Dr Notermans also served as chairperson of the campylobacter working group and Prof. Diane Newell (United Kingdom) served as rapporteur. Dr Mark Tamplin (United States of America) served as chairperson of the working group on vibrio and Dr Ron Lee (United Kingdom) as rapporteur of that group.

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