Critical review of methods for risk ranking of food related hazards, based on risks for human health

H. J. van der Fels-Klerx*, E. D. van Asselt, M. Raley, Morten Poulsen, Helle Korsgaard, Lea Bredsdorff, Maarten Nauta, M. D'Agostino, D. Coles, H. J. P. Marvin, L. J. Frewer

*Corresponding author for this work

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This study aimed to critically review methods for ranking risks related to food safety and dietary hazards on the basis of their anticipated human health impacts. A literature review was performed to identify and characterize methods for risk ranking from the fields of food, environmental science and socio-economic sciences. The review used a predefined search protocol, and covered the bibliographic databases Scopus, CAB Abstracts, Web of Sciences, and PubMed over the period 1993-2013. All references deemed relevant, on the basis of of predefined evaluation criteria, were included in the review, and the risk ranking method characterized. The methods were then clustered - based on their characteristics - into eleven method categories. These categories included: risk assessment, comparative risk assessment, risk ratio method, scoring method, cost of illness, health adjusted life years, multi-criteria decision analysis, risk matrix, flow charts/decision trees, stated preference techniques and expert synthesis. Method categories were described by their characteristics, weaknesses and strengths, data resources, and fields of applications. It was concluded there is no single best method for risk ranking. The method to be used should be selected on the basis of risk manager/assessor requirements, data availability, and the characteristics of the method. Recommendations for future use and application are provided.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCritical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)178-193
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Risk prioritization
  • Risk ranking
  • Food safety
  • Nutritional hazards
  • Health impact


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