Ranking Hazards in Foods

April 16/Science Letter -- "Through a cooperative agreement with the U. S. Food and Drug Administration, the Institute of Food Technologists developed a risk-ranking framework prototype to enable comparison of microbiological and chemical hazards in foods and to assist policy makers, risk managers, risk analysts and others in determining the relative public health impact of specific hazard-food combinations. The prototype is a bottom-up system based on assumptions that incorporate expert opinion/insight with a number of exposure and hazard-related risk criteria variables, which are propagated forward with food intake data to produce risk-ranking determinations."

"The prototype produces a semi-quantitative comparative assessment of food safety hazards and the impacts of hazard control measures. For a specific hazard-food combination the prototype can produce a single metric: a final risk value expressed as annual pseudo-disability adjusted life years (pDALY). The pDALY is a harmonization of the very different dose- response relationships observed for chemicals and microbes. The prototype was developed on two platforms, a web-based user interface and an Analytica(R) model (LuminaDecision Systems, LosGatos, Calif.). Comprising visual basic language, the web-based platform facilitates data input and allows use concurrently from multiple locations. The Analytica model facilitates visualization of the logic flow, interrelationship of input and output variables, and calculations/algorithms comprising the prototype," wrote R. Newsome and colleagues.

The researchers concluded, "A variety of sortable risk-ranking reports and summary information can be generated for hazard-food pairs, showing hazard and dose- response assumptions and data, per capita consumption by population group, and annual p-DALY."

Newsome and colleagues published their study in the Journal of Food Science ("Development of a Risk-Ranking Framework to Evaluate Potential High-Threat Microorganisms, Toxins and Chemicals in Food." Journal of Food Science, 2009;74(2):R39-R45).

For additional information, contact R. Newsome, Institute Food Technologists, Chicago, IL 60607.

From the April 27, 2009, Prepared Foods E-dition