Aug 03, 2012

EPA and USDA Announce First-Ever Microbial Risk Assessment Guidance

Guideline will help better determine health risks from food and waterborne pathogens

water quality testing

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced the first-ever Microbial Risk Assessment (MRA) guideline July 31.

This new MRA guideline lays out an overarching approach to conducting meaningful assessments of the risks to Americans posed by pathogens in food and water. Pathogens ingested in food and water can result in acute gastrointestinal-related illnesses; some gastrointestinal-related illnesses can result in long-term and permanent health effects, as well as premature death. This new guideline will improve the quality of the data collected by public health scientists charged with protecting Americans from pathogen-related risks in food and water. 

“This guidance contributes significantly to improving the quality and consistency of microbial risk assessments, and provides greater transparency to stakeholders and other interested parties in how federal agencies approach and conduct their microbial risk assessments,” said Dr. Glenn Paulson, science adviser for EPA.

“The microbial risk assessment guideline developed by FSIS, the EPA and our other public health partners will help protect consumers by allowing us to uniformly assess and reduce health risks from pathogens,” USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Elisabeth Hagen said.

Formal risk assessments for food, water and environmentally relevant chemicals have been undertaken for decades. However, an overarching microbial risk assessment guideline has not been available until now. The guideline announced July 31 meets this need by providing comprehensive yet specific and descriptive information for developing assessments of microbial risk in food and water.

For more information on the microbial risk assessment guideline, click here.