Risk Assessment is the scientifically-based process that characterizes the possible human health implications of hazards found in food. This scientific approach is part of the risk analysis paradigm that governs the food decision-making process. It is a prerequisite for the development and execution of robust and consistent food safety regulatory decisions. This paper reviews food regulatory decision-making scenarios where risk assessment plays a key role. It discusses challenges associated with the access to capacity and competencies from various disciplines necessary to enable risk assessment and overall risk analysis. The paper illustrates the urgent need for the provision of additional support to capacity building initiatives in this area by means of mutually beneficial resource-sharing with the objective to establish regional and/or sub-regional centres of food regulatory science, including expertise in risk assessment. Regional Centres of Expertise may be the answer to provide the needed competencies and up-to-date tools to operationalize food regulatory systems, where food risk analysis is the foundation of decision-making, as advocated by the guidance of the Codex Alimentarius commission. It may also be the response to support economic regional integration, where food and agrifood trade needs to be supported by the removal of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) constraints and through achieving a more coordinated and harmonious food safety standard setting framework, at the regional level.
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