Risk Assessment consists in identifying the adverse effects for consumer health that can arise from their exposure to food-borne hazards.
This is one of the three elements of risk analysis that form the basis of food safety policy: identifying the risk (scientific advice and data analysis), managing the risk (regulation and control) and communicating the risk.
Risk Assessment consists of the following phases(1)
Hazard identification: Identifying biological, chemical and physical agents that can be harmful to health and may be present in a specific food or food group.
Hazard characterization: Qualitative and/or quantitative assessment of the nature of the adverse health effects related to biological, chemical or physical agents that may be present in food.
Exposure assessment: Qualitative and/or quantitative assessment of the probable ingestion of biological, chemical or physical agents through food, and from other sources, where necessary.
Risk characterization: Qualitative and/or quantitative estimate, including concomitant uncertainties, of the probability of agents causing known or potential effects and their seriousness for the health of a specific population, based on the identification and characterization of the hazard and the evaluation of exposure.
Hazard - refers to any biological, chemical or physical agent present in food or feed, or any biological, chemical or physical condition of food or feed that may have harmful effects on health.
Risk - means a function of the probability of an adverse health effect and the severity of that effect, consequential to a hazard.
(1) FAO – http://www.fao.org/3/y1579e/y1579e05.htm