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Risk Assessment or Assessment of Risk? Developing an Evidence-Based Approach for Primary Producers of Leafy Vegetables to Assess and Manage Microbial Risks


Over the last 10 years, some high-profile foodborne illness outbreaks have been linked to the consumption of leafy greens. Growers are required to complete microbiological risk assessments (RAs) for the production of leafy crops supplied either to retail or for further processing. These RAs are based primarily on qualitative judgements of hazard and risks at various stages in the production process but lack many of the steps defined for quantitative microbiological RAs by the Codex Alimentarius Commission. This article is based on the discussions of an industry expert group and proposes a grower RA approach based on a structured qualitative assessment, which requires all decisions to be based on evidence and a framework for describing the decision process that can be challenged and defended within the supply chain. In addition, this article highlights the need for evidence to be more easily available and accessible to primary producers and identifies the need to develop hygiene criteria to aid validation of proposed interventions.
The results of this paper were presented at IAFP’s European Symposium on Food Safety 2016, will be presented at IAFP Annual Meeting 2017 and a free live webinar and free recording is envisioned to present the results in October 2017.

Open access available here.

For more information about the Microbiological Food Safety Task Force, click here.