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The following introduction was written by Roger; please feel free to comment on it.

Research and policy groups from a number of countries in Europe and the Southern Hemisphere are collaborating to work towards the achievement of a genuinely risk-based food safety system which could be applied throughout the food chain.

The group is using example food safety hazards to develop the structure of a system for routine evaluation of the safety of food products at each stage of the food chain, which would allow resources to be diverted from low priority hazards to those of greater importance, and those which are emerging as increasingly important.

The system would track products through the chain, apply an automated risk evaluation procedure in real time and use information gathered at each point in the chain in conjunction with relevant scientific knowledge to guide decisions on how to manage specific immediate risks that are identified, and how to adjust the longer-term risk management procedures of chain participants to optimise protection of consumers against hazards of genuine concern, evolving to cope with changes in the risk profile of products.

While this is seen worldwide as a desirable goal, the SaFoodChain is taking collaborative steps to develop and test the necessary tools and scientific information sources to make possible the operation of an effective system of this kind, which could operate both within and across national boundaries. The group was initiated in 2001, and is moving currently from planning to research and evaluation, making use of pre-existing research undertaken by members of the consortium.

Further information can be obtained from the coordinator, Christine Friedli.