Med. Weter. 68 (5), 285-289, 2012

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Ziętek-Barszcz A., Miechowicz B., Stolarek A., Bocian Ł., Śmietanka K.
Microbiological risk assessment – identification and characterization of a hazard
Risk assessment is a complex process that requires adequate knowledge of various fields. It consists of four steps: hazard identification, hazard characterization, exposure assessment and risk characterization. It can be conducted in a qualitative, semi-quantitative or a quantitative manner, and its selection depends on the quantity and quality of collected data. The aim of the paper has been to introduce to the historical background, terminology and the first two steps of risk assessment in improving animal health and food safety: hazard identification and hazard characterization. Hazard identification is usually defined as “the identification of biological, chemical, and physical agents capable of causing adverse health effects and which may be present in a particular food or group of foods.” The data concerning a particular hazard can be derived from scientific literature, databases, governmental agencies, international organizations, expert opinions, clinical tests, animal experiments, epidemiological observations, examinations of properties and interactions between microorganisms. Hazard characterization is the qualitative and/or quantitative assessment of the nature of the adverse health effects associated with the hazard. There are several factors considered in hazard characterization, related to both the microorganism and the human host. The most desirable part of this process is establishing a dose-response relationship, describing the relationship between the amount or level of exposure to a substance and the occurrence and intensity of an adverse effect.
Keywords: risk assessment, hazard identification, hazard characterization