Stakeholders in the system of food safety, in particular federal agencies, need evidence-based, transparent, and rigorous approaches to estimate and compare the risk of foodborne illness from microbial and chemical hazards and the public health impact of interventions. FDA-iRISK (referred to here as iRISK), a Web-based quantitative risk assessment system, was developed to meet this need. The modeling tool enables users to assess, compare, and rank the risks posed by multiple food-hazard pairs at all stages of the food supply system, from primary production, through manufacturing and processing, to retail distribution and, ultimately, to the consumer. Using standard data entry templates, built-in mathematical functions, and Monte Carlo simulation techniques, iRISK integrates data and assumptions from seven components: the food, the hazard, the population of consumers, process models describing the introduction and fate of the hazard up to the point of consumption, consumption patterns, dose-response curves, and health effects. Beyond risk ranking, iRISK enables users to estimate and compare the impact of interventions and control measures on public health risk. iRISK provides estimates of the impact of proposed interventions in various ways, including changes in the mean risk of illness and burden of disease metrics, such as losses in disability-adjusted life years. Case studies for Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella were developed to demonstrate the application of iRISK for the estimation of risks and the impact of interventions for microbial hazards. iRISK was made available to the public at in October 2012.

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