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5. Definitions of key risk management terms

Risk management: 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.

This definition of risk management, which has been proposed for inclusion in the Codex Procedural Manual (4), includes consideration of all the elements (listed below) that may be included in the risk management process (i.e. risk evaluation, risk management option assessment, implementation of management decision, and monitoring and review). However, in a practical context, it may not be necessary to include all the elements. For example, risk management decisions at the national level are likely to use all of the elements of this definition, whereas the risk management activities of Codex do not generally include implementation, monitoring and review.

Risk assessment policy: Guidelines for value judgement and policy choices which may need to be applied at specific decision points in the risk assessment process.

Risk assessment policy setting is a risk management responsibility, which should be carried out in full collaboration with risk assessors, and which serves to protect the scientific integrity of the risk assessment. The guidelines should be documented so as to ensure consistency and transparency. Examples of risk assessment policy setting are establishing the population(s) at risk, establishing criteria for ranking of hazards, and guidelines for application of safety factors.

Risk profile: A description of the food safety problem and its context.

Risk profiling is the process of describing a food safety problem and its context, in order to identify those elements of the hazard or risk relevant to various risk management decisions. The risk profile would include identifying aspects of hazards relevant to prioritising and setting the risk assessment policy and aspects of the risk relevant to the choice of safety standards and management options.

A typical risk profile might include the following: a brief description of the situation, product or commodity involved; the values expected to be placed at risk, (e.g. human health, economic concerns); potential consequences; consumer perception of the risks; and the distribution of risks and benefits.

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