Risk assessments for the food industry

Performing food industry risk assessments

  • December 11, 2018

There are requirements to complete risk assessments on various food business activities as part of both regulatory compliance and third-party certification requirements. But when should these food industry risk assessments be performed, and, what ones do you need to complete? Read on to get an overview on performing risk assessments in your food business.

What is a Risk Assessment?

The World Health Organization defines risk assessment as being the scientific evaluation of known or potential adverse health effects resulting from human exposure to foodborne hazards.

To simplify this further, risk assessment refers to the process for identifying a hazard and estimating the overall risk because of that hazard. It may be quantitative or qualitative. With that being said, having a good understanding of the difference between a hazard and a risk is fundamental.

When should risk assessments be performed?

It helps to understand why you may be required to complete a risk assessment in your food business. The main reasons may include:

  • Regulatory requirements
  • Third party certification standards, or,
  • As part of good corporate governance

Whatever your reason, it should always be in addition to ensuring that you are producing a food product that is safe for your customer.

Types of Food Industry Risk Assessments

Depending on what your current regulatory, certification or corporate governance requirements are, you may be required to undertake a risk assessment for:

  • HACCP (Food Hazard Assessment)
  • TACCP (Threat Assessment)
  • VACCP (Vulnerability Assessment)
  • Raw Materials
  • Food Fraud
  • Workplace health & safety
  • Environmental
  • Business Operational
  • FSMA
  • Suppliers
  • Allergens

If you have a GFSI recognized standard implemented in your business, for example BRC, SQF or FSSC 22000, you may also be required to complete risk assessments on any type of hazard that could be a threat to the safety of your raw materials, work-in-progress or finished product.

Whatever types of food industry risk assessments you are required to perform, make sure the process has been clearly documented with full justification for any ratings selected included.

Risk Assessment Methodology

If you google search the term ‘risk assessment model’, you will be bombarded with hundreds of examples and images of different types of risk assessment models. So which model should you use?

Traditionally, a 2-dimensional matrix model has been used in the food industry. This compares different levels of hazard severity and different levels of probability to identify the overall risk. Colour coding is used to highlight different levels of risk.

Who should complete risk assessments in my business?

Ideally, the person completing the risk assessments in your food business should have adequate skill and knowledge in the process of risk assessment. There are plenty of training courses available in the market-place depending on your needs. To get you started, please checkout our Express Learning – Introduction to Risk Assessment. For a more advanced course click here.

Have your say

What types of risk assessments have you completed for your food business? Share your experience with the HACCP Mentor community by leaving a comment below this post.

 

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