What is Risk Analysis?
Risk Analysis originated from a model that was used to determine the source of pollution caused by humans. The concept of risk was introduced by Rachel Carson in 1962 in her book “Silent Spring”. In this book Carson critically spoke against the use of pesticides.
Industry was not fond of Carson’s book; they said it was not based on hard scientific evidence. This apparent lack of scientific evidence drove the United States Government to organise a scientific committee to investigate the long-term environmental effects of a very widely used organic pesticide: DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane). A later study found that DDT was not only bio-accumulative, but that it also caused a decline in the raptor (bird of prey) population. After this, in the 1970s, the big environmental health and public health movements started. DDT was subsequently banned for agricultural use in many countries.
Since then, most people started to be concerned about their risk of cancer from exposure to certain man-made contaminants. These movements resulted in the testing of chemicals, usually via animal testing, to determine if they could cause cancer.
In summary, Risk Analysis is a systematic way to fully assess risks, to get transparency into complexity and to address uncertainties or knowledge gaps. It facilitates making Risk Management decisions and communicating about risk. It comprises three components:
Risk Analysis is also the main playing ground for the SAFE FOODS project. SAFE FOODS aims to contribute to the restoration of consumer trust in the food chain through the development of a new integrated risk analysis approach for foods.The outcomes of the diverse SAFE FOODS research tasks in a broad range of disciplines are being integrated to refine Risk Analysis practice for food safety. The new approach integrates risk-benefit assessment of human health, consumer preferences and values, as well as impact analysis of socio-economical aspects. Compared to current frameworks, a lot of attention is given to active stakeholder participation, increased transparency in decision-making, improved interaction between risk assessors and risk managers and more effective communication throughout the risk analysis process. The new risk analysis approach for food safety management integrates scientific principles, societal aspects and effective public participation. This has implications for the development and implementation of new risk management policies and risk communication.