The FDA has at last released iRISK, a free, online risk assessment tool for chemical and biological hazards to food safety. Under development for nearly 10 years, in partnership with Risk Sciences International of Ottawa, Canada, the tool’s design is based on input from an expert panel of the Institute of Food Technologists.
iRISK is a web-based, interactive risk assessment tool that compares and ranks the risks posed by multiple food/hazard combinations that may compete for public health resources. It also enables users to estimate and compare the effectiveness of proposed interventions and control measures.
“It’s the first publicly available tool that can evaluate chemical and biological risks in the food production chain at the same time,” said Fernando Sampedro, PhD, assistant professor in the Center for Animal Health and Food Safety at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul. “It’s very user friendly, and you don’t need to have a lot of mathematical or chemical background to apply this tool.”
iRISK can be used to compare a number of different hazard combinations—one hazard in different foods, multiple hazards in a single food, or multiple hazards in multiple foods. It’s designed primarily to be used by risk assessors, but risk managers are another target audience. Ultimately, the FDA hopes that iRISK will serve as a centralized knowledge manager, taking input from users and building a comprehensive picture of risk in the food supply system and risk-reduction strategies.
The tool and training modules are available online at http://foodrisk.org.