How to use a risk evaluation tool when putting together your FSMS

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In my previous blog I talked about How to get your head around Food Safety Management Systems including the seven principles of HACCP and what your food safety management system should include.

What is a risk evaluation tool?

As part of this process you could use a risk evaluation tool to work out if further analysis of hazards are needed. You should do this before you use the Codex decision tree which will help you to decide what is critical in the production or service of your food. The risk assessment tool can identify which steps have a lower risk rating and therefore less importance over the high risk ones.

Risk evaluation tools generally use Probability (the likelihood of a food safety risk happening e.g. microbiological growth) and Severity (How badly someone could be harmed if food is not safe e.g. stomach ache, hospitalisation, death)This is explained more fully in my blog on glossary of terms relating specifically to HACCP

A simple Risk Assessment Matrix

Severity (S)
(1)Minor (2)Medium (3)High (4)Very High
Probability (P) 1.       Improbable 1 2 3 4
2.       Unlikely 2 4 6 8
3.       Occasional 3 6 9 12
4.       Likely 4 8 12 16
5.       Very Likely 5 10 15 20

Probability and Severity

Probability can be categorized as:

1 improbable e.g., every ten years
2 unlikely e.g., yearly
3 occasional e.g., monthly
4 likely e.g., weekly
5 frequent e.g., daily

and, Severity: 

1 minor e.g., no significant health impact
2 medium e.g., unease, nausea, mild diarrhoea
3 high (critical) e.g., sickness or injury requiring medical intervention
4 very high e.g., serious health impact; could be fatal

How do I get a risk score?

Simply multiply (P) Probability x (S) Severity = Risk Score

For example, salmonella growth in undercooked chicken, the probability is unlikely or occasional but the severity could be very high, as this could result in food poisoning. The risk score would be  8 or 12  therefore this would be a critical control point.

Like the example above each hazard can be evaluated and those with a low number e.g. below 2 could be seen as not being significant or low risk and therefore do not need further action. However those 3+ would be significant and be a medium score. If 6+ they could be high risk which means they are most likely to be a critical control point.

Risk assessment tools can be made to fit your business depending on the risks involved. The matrix can be like the one above or with more categories to fit your operation. You can score the risks low, medium, high or very high.

If you would like more information on risk assessment tools please Contact me