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Institute of Medicine (US) Food Forum. Nutritional Risk Assessment: Perspectives, Methods, and Data Challenges, Workshop Summary. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2007.

Cover of Nutritional Risk Assessment

Nutritional Risk Assessment: Perspectives, Methods, and Data Challenges, Workshop Summary.

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Presenters: Catherine E. Woteki and Robert L. Buchanan


Risk assessment methods and their applications in food and nutrition have evolved considerably over the last 20 years. Concurrently, there have been important developments in approaches to assessing data sets, in statistical techniques, and in the fields of genetics, genomics, proteomics, and metabolomics. Many of these developments provide insights into how food affects human health. Risk assessment applications now occur in areas that originally were not considered to be in the risk assessment realm. Among these are applications of risk assessment to the microbiological safety of foods and human nutrition. This workshop was designed to bring together experts from many fields to consider what has been learned about the application of risk assessment to various food- and nutrition-related problems, to discuss the strengths and challenges in using risk assessment methods to inform the setting of dietary and nutritional recommendations and other forms of decision making, and to suggest next steps for making progress in these areas.

Catherine Woteki welcomed the group on behalf of the Food Forum, one of the cosponsors of the workshop. The Food Forum is a group of representatives from government agencies and academia and scientists from the food industry that operates under the auspices of the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine. The Food Forum discusses food-related topics ranging from risk assessment to aspects of consumer behavior. The activities in which the Food Forum is involved provide a venue for dialogue and for exploring the dimensions of different issues, but they do not result in recommendations.

Robert Buchanan described how this workshop grew out of a project undertaken as part of the Interagency Risk Assessment Consortium. This consortium is a group of 17 federal agencies and organizational units within those agencies that meet to find ways to enhance the application of risk assessment to food issues. Two years ago, the consortium recognized that work by the World Health Organization (Source: [accessed July 10, 2007]) and others would lead to increased interest in the application of risk assessment methods to nutritional questions. Thus, the consortium worked to help plan this workshop that was designed to provide a forum for the discussion of the potential of risk assessment approaches to inform diet- and nutrition-related recommendations and decisions. Buchanan acknowledged Laina Bush within the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for her efforts and support.

Woteki expressed special thanks to the Interagency Risk Assessment Consortium for its instrumental role in planning the workshop. Woteki also expressed appreciation to the other cosponsors: the Food and Drug Administration; the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; the Agricultural Research Service and the Office of Risk Assessment and Cost Benefit Analysis, both of the U.S. Department of Agriculture; and the International Life Sciences Foundation.


A major objective of the workshop was to introduce the nutrition and risk assessment communities to each other and foster their collaboration. The more specific objectives of the workshop follow:

  1. Discuss the strengths and challenges of using various risk assessment approaches to inform dietary and nutritional recommendations.
  2. Explore the use of risk assessment approaches to evaluate standards for nutrient intake and the relationship of diet and nutrition to chronic disease risk.
  3. Identify next steps necessary to make progress in these areas.
Copyright © 2007, National Academy of Sciences.
Bookshelf ID: NBK37541


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