Food safety risk assessment procedures go high-tech

As part of their risk assessment procedures related to food safety, supply chains must guard against issues or hazards related to imported foods. As a solution for qualitative risk assessment, an article in Food Safety Magazine suggests a database holding a dozen or more variables with characteristic information for safety notifications and alerts.

Professors Andrea Petróczi and Declan Naughton of the School of Life Sciences at Kingston University in London said the transition from global food supply chains to food supply networks have shed regional risk management procedures.

The co-authors said that to combat the deregulation that comes with an expanding network supply, more intelligence would have to be gathered to establish regulation. The major solution offered is a food safety database. A food safety database can collect data to assess risk and alert authorities of a food supply's country of origin or reported contaminant type and levels. As another safeguard, vendors and suppliers must undergo risk analysis.

"In any food safety plan, hazard analysis is critical,"  food safety consultant Allan Pfuntner, said in a different Food Safety Magazine article. "Water, food contact surfaces and products are tested to ascertain bacterial levels and chemical presence. Physical contaminants are monitored as well. The actual impact of pests must also be determined.

Hazard analysis involves monitoring production and manufacturing including the potential activity of pests that may pose health concerns. After vendors and suppliers finish the risk assessment, they can use the results to create management strategies.

FDA incorporates electronic-based risk assessment

As another technology-based risk assessment solution, international nonprofit Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO) says the Food and Drug Administration undergoes a high-tech process to reduce risks, according to Food Safety News. Though only 1 percent of imported foods are examined, all incoming shipments are inspected by the Food and Drug Administration electronically through a "risk-based targeted approach."

This electronic assessment, called Predictive Risk-Based Evaluation for Dynamic Import Compliance Targeting (PREDICT), allows food safety officials to consider a wide range of factors that may deem food risky including weather conditions abroad in the supplier's country. The published AFDO guidelines encourages the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to act as a "first line of defense" to make sure imported foods are safe for consumption.

"Once these FDA-regulated products enter the United States and are marketed domestically, they become the primary responsibility of state and local agencies to ensure the product's safety," the AFDO guide said.

As part of officials' imported food monitoring, they can undergo food sampling and testing, embargo of food, food recalls, import alerts and eradicating violative products.

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