Note on Risk Assessment
To improve Food Safety Frameworks, FSSAI under Section10, 16 (1)(i) (c) and 18(1) (2) (b)(c), has established a Risk Assessment Cell. The RAC will carry out functions of risk assessment to support risk management and risk communication. Broadly, a risk assessment will be done for products, processes and activities that could result in an increase in a health risk and for anything that might have a direct effect on food safety.
RAC will provide an effective framework for determining the relative urgency of problems related to food safety and the remedial measures to reduce or control these risks. It will be working on identification of the hazards that cause food borne health problems, in a variety of ways including, the data collection on contaminants and adulterants in food categories through laboratories, research & development projects (Pull and Push type), lack of compliance data with regards to standards, labelling and other issues. Once the areas of concern are identified it justifies the need for risk analysis.This will later help in developing and improving the present food safety system including the regulations, developing science based standards, food safety policies, laboratory analysis, and epidemiological surveillance.
The food hazards identified can be numerous and all cannot be addressed at the same time by the Authority, RAC will be working on ranking the hazards, to determine which area of concern needs to be addressed first and establishing the priorities, based on public health as well as economic and social aspect of the risk, for management. The aim should be how to reduce the risk, protect the trades associated with the risk and protect international trade practices.
Objectives of Risk Assessment Cell (RAC):
- To carry out the basic work of risk assessment through collection, processing and analysis of surveillance data and prepare an analysis report.
- Provide inputsto the Scientific Panels and Scientific Committee for review and risk assessment outputs and scientific opinion to assist in management of food safety hazards in the areas of concern.
- Provide and utilize a pool of scientific expertise across the countrythrough FSKAN for scientific and technical opinions.
- Communicate the risk assessment findings conducted byScientific Panels and Scientific Committee to the risk managers and other stakeholder.
- Coordinate in setting vertical and horizontal standards for food products.
Methodology (Risk Assessment process)
Risk assessments are resource-intensive, data-driven activities designed to provide risk managers with the ability to consider a range of mitigations that are intended to improve public health.
There is no one way to perform the food safety risk assessment and it varies according to the nature of the risk, the availability of data and other scientific evidences to answer specific risk management queries.”
Currently, efforts are being made for pooling/ sourcing of scientific data from research institutions, export agencies, and other government organizations at national level. The data collected would be helpful in carrying out risk assessment and surveillance plans.
- After identifying and expressing the nature and characteristic of the food safety issues, Risk profile is developed by the RAC which will be describing the situation, product or commodity involved and the information on the pathways by which the consumers are exposed to the hazard.
- The decision weather a risk assessment is necessary will be taken jointly by the Committee comprising of experts and the FSSAI officials
- A request proposal for commissioning of risk assessment will be issued by the RAC for the relevant Scientific Panel
- The data from the risk assessment studies will be used as an inputs to be provided to the relevant scientific panel for scientific opinions, scientific opinion provided by the Panels will be either be vetted by the scientific committee or for further decision. If approved, it will be forwarded to Food regulators and Food Authority for policy decisions.
- FSSAI and Food Authority will provide decision /options to mitigate or control the risk.
- In case of any further clarifications on the risk assessment output/scientific opinion form Scientific committee or Food Authority the RAC will coordinate and provide the same for consideration in subsequent meetings.
- FSSAI, as risk Managers will be responsible for considering the scientific opinion for decision making process and in developing a risk management policy.
- FSSAI will also be responsible for risk communication portion, this being a two-way process and involves sharing the information internally between the risk analysis team and with externalstakeholders including general public.
- Essential database required to conduct risk assessment will be developed and maintained by RAC.