Food related emerging risks have potential adverse effects on human, animal or plant health, or the economy. Emerging risks are related to newly identified hazards to which the target organisms have significant exposure or known hazards to which the exposure or sensitivity significantly increases.
Identification of emerging risks is a complex task that requires high level of expertise and interdisciplinary approach for the appropriate judgement and prioritization of the issues because of lack of data and uncertainties are specific characteristics of the field. The purpose of the process is complex: in addition to the protection of human, animal and plant health, it provides input for strategic planning and analysis, decision-making processes, risk assessment and the adoption of appropriate risk management measures. By identifying emerging risks, appropriate preventive and risk mitigation measures implemented by the relevant organizations, institutions and individuals will contribute manner to the achievement of the above objectives in a targeted and timely.
The identification process is basically collecting emerging issues from different data / information sources and then, by applying a structured filtering process, selecting emerging risks that require further action. Data analysis and data mining tools are applied for the collection of emerging issues because of the large amount of relevant data sources and huge amount of data. The use of automated algorithms is essential, however, because of the complexity and nature of emerging issues, the information is often incomplete, therefore fully automated system cannot be built. For the assessment of the novelty and relevance of the cases, expert opinion is always required.
Information regarding emerging issues are acquired by network analysis of patent databases and text mining-based analysis of food and food safety related news. The development and practical application of related methodologies and algorithms are core activities of DFI. Identification of emerging risks are supported by other methodologies as well, such as early warning systems applied for known hazards, analysis and monitoring of drivers that affect the emergence of risks. Long-term foresight studies and scenario analyses may also potentially contribute to the process. These are applied on a case-by-case basis, as required.