Risk assessment of microbiological hazards in foods has been identified as a priority area of work for the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC). At its 32nd session the Codex Committee on Food Hygiene (CCFH) identified a list of pathogen-commodity combinations for which it requires expert risk assessment advice. In response, FAO and WHO jointly launched a programme of work with the objective of providing expert advice on risk assessment of microbiological hazards in foods to their member countries and to the CAC.
Dr. Hajime Toyofuku, WHO, and Dr. Sarah Cahill, FAO provided participants with an overview of the joint FAO/WHO activities on microbiological risk assessment. In their presentation, they also highlighted the objectives and expected outcomes of the current meeting.
The FAO/WHO programme of activities on microbiological risk assessment aims to serve two customers - the CAC and the FAO and WHO member countries. The CAC, and in particular the CCFH, needs sound scientific advice as a basis for the development of guidelines and recommendations as well as the answers to specific risk management questions on certain pathogen-commodity combinations. Member countries on the other hand need specific risk assessment tools to use in conducting their own assessments and, if possible, some modules that can be directly applied in a national risk assessment.
To implement this programme of work, FAO and WHO are convening a series of joint expert consultations. To date three expert consultations have been held. The first of these was held on 17 - 21 July 2000 and the second on 30 April - 4 May 2001. Both of these expert consultations addressed risk assessment of Salmonella spp. in broiler chickens and eggs and Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat foods. In March 2001, FAO and WHO initiated risk assessment work on the two pathogen-commodity combinations being considered in this expert consultation. Two ad hoc expert drafting groups were established to examine the available relevant information on Campylobacter spp. in broiler chickens and Vibrio spp. in seafood and prepare documentation on both the exposure assessment and hazard characterization steps of the risk assessment. These documents were reviewed and evaluated by a joint expert consultation convened on 23 - 27 July 2001.
In October 2001, the report of that expert consultation was delivered to CCFH. Additional risk management guidance was sought from the Committee in relation to the finalization of the risk assessments. In response to this, the Committee established risk management drafting groups to consider the approach it could take towards providing guidance on managing problems associated with Campylobacter spp. in broiler chickens and Vibrio spp. in seafood. A limited amount of feedback was received; therefore the risk assessment drafting groups, FAO and WHO met early in 2002 to consider how to complete the risk assessment work. Both risk assessments have been progressed towards completion, although to varying extents. The risk assessment documents that have been developed to date were reviewed and evaluated by the expert consultation.
The purpose of this report is to present the summary of the draft documents on risk assessment of Campylobacter spp. in broiler chickens and Vibrio spp. in seafood as well as the discussions and recommendations of the expert consultation.
|  FAO. 2000. Joint FAO/WHO
Expert Consultation on Risk Assessment of Microbiological Hazards in Foods,
FAO Headquarters, Rome, Italy, 17 - 20 July 2000. FAO Food and Nutrition
Paper 71. http://www.fao.org/es/ESN/food/risk_mra_listeria_en.stm/
 FAO. 2001. Joint FAO/WHO Expert Consultation on Risk Assessment of Microbiological Hazards in Foods: Risk characterization of Salmonella spp. in eggs and broiler chickens and Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat foods, FAO Headquarters, Rome, Italy, 30 April - 4 May 2001. FAO Food and Nutrition Paper 72. http://www.fao.org/es/ESN/food/risk_mra_salmonella_en.stm/ http://www.who.int/fsf/Micro/index.htm
 WHO. 2001. Report of the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Consultation on Risk Assessment of Microbiological Hazards in Foods; Hazard identification, exposure assessment and hazard characterization of Campylobacter spp. in broiler chickens and Vibrio spp. in seafood. WHO Headquarters, Geneva, Switzerland 23 - 27 July 2001. WHO 2001. http://www.fao.org/es/ESN/food/risk_mra_campylobacter_en.stm/ http://www.who.int/fsf/Micro/index.htm