What is a vulnerability assessment?
In the food industry, the term vulnerability assessment refers to a risk-assessment-style evaluation of a food’s vulnerability to food fraud. Food fraud is deception, using food, for economic gain (Food Fraud Initiative, Michigan State University 2016). Some organisations, particularly in the United States of America, use the phrase vulnerability assessment when referring to malicious attacks on food, such as those conducted for extortion, ideological reasons or terrorism. However those types of risks are issues of food defense rather than food fraud and those risks are not considered here. To learn more about the terminology around food fraud, food defense and food security click here.
A vulnerability assessment is a documented assessment that identifies vulnerabilities to food fraud and explains how those vulnerabilities were identified.
Why ‘vulnerability’ and not ‘risk’?
A vulnerability assessment is slightly different to a risk assessment; risk is something that has occurred before and will occur again, it can be quantified using existing data. A vulnerability is a weakness that can be exploited by someone or something who wishes to profit or intends harm. A vulnerability can lead to a risk. Because food fraud is difficult to estimate and quantify, we use the word vulnerability rather than risk. In addition, using the word ‘vulnerability’ helps to minimise confusion in the food industry where risk assessments for food safety are commonly performed and well understood.
Why do a vulnerability assessment?
- To protect consumers: Food that is vulnerable to food fraud presents significant risks to consumers. Food that is adulterated or diluted [Read more…]