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2. Background

Scope of the consultation

Risk analysis is widely recognised as the fundamental methodology underlying the development of food safety standards. As recognised in the 1995 consultation, risk analysis is composed of three separate but integrated elements, namely risk assessment, risk management and risk communication. That consultation recognised risk communication as an interactive process of exchange of information and opinion on risk among risk assessors, risk managers, and other interested parties. Risk management is defined within Codex as the process of weighing policy alternatives in the light of the results of risk assessment and, if required, selecting and implementing appropriate control options, including regulatory measures. The outcome of the risk management process, as undertaken by Committees within the Codex Alimentarius system, is the development of standards, guidelines and other recommendations for food safety, m the national situation it is likely that different risk management decisions could be made according to different criteria and different ranges of risk management options. The overall objective of Codex is to ensure consumer protection and to facilitate international trade.

Risk managers, in developing approaches to managing risk, utilise the risk characterisation that results from the risk assessment process. An important principle that was recognised by the 1995 consultation was the functional separation of risk assessment from risk management.

The significant world-wide increase in foodborne illness that has been recognized in recent years, especially arising from enteric organisms, suggests the need for more effective control using internationally agreed risk management methods.

Scope of the consultation

The Consultation considered the entire scope of the application of risk management to food safety matters, including the interaction between risk management and risk assessment, and between risk management and risk communication. In doing so it took note of the report of

the March 1995 Joint FAO/WHO Expert Consultation on the Application of Risk Analysis to Food Standards Issues, which dealt primarily with risk assessment. The Consultation did not consider the subject of risk communication, except as incidental to its consideration of risk management. It considered risks arising from both chemical and biological agents, but did not consider risks arising from nutritional deficiencies or imbalances.

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