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J Food Prot. 2017 Mar 28:725-733. doi: 10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-16-237. [Epub ahead of print]

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

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1 Fresh Produce Research Centre, Crop and Environment Sciences, Harper Adams University, TF10 8NB, Newport, UK.
2 Ecole Nationale Vétérinaire d'Alfort, 7 Avenue du Général de Gaulle, 95704, Maisons Alfort, France.
3 John Bassett Consulting Ltd., Bedford, MK40 3DJ, Bedfordshire, UK.
4 Campden BRI, Chipping Campden, GL55 6LD, Gloucestershire, UK.
5 McDonald's Europe, Food Safety & Supplier Workplace Accountability, N2 8AW, London, UK; and.
6 Food Microbiology Laboratory, Wageningen University, Postbus 17, 6700AA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.


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.


Food safety; Leafy vegetables; Qualitative risk assessment; Quantitative risk assessment

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