Chapter 2. Identification of Risks and Impacts

The primary objective of a risk assessment is to identify the potential negative environmental and social impacts so that you can develop the appropriate strategies to address them. In the following pages, we present the key issues that come up in the food and beverage industry.


1. Environmental: Pollution Prevention and Resource Efficiency

• Use of large amounts of freshwater

• Effluents containing large amounts of organic material and highly toxic substances (pesticides, herbicides, biocides, pathogens)

• Emission of unpleasant odors

• Production of large amounts of organic waste

• Emission of particulate matter

• Energy consumption for heating and cooling equipments

2. Occupational Health and Safety

• Exposure to hazardous substances such as preservatives, smoke particles, refrigerants, and ingredients that can cause allergic reactions

• Exposure to pathogens and biological agents that can cause severe human disease

• Injuries related to falls, cuts, and strains from carrying heavy loads and repetitive work

• Exposure to extreme temperature conditions

• Exposure to unsafe levels of noise

• Exposure to unsafe levels of irradiation used to extend shelf-life of product

3. Labor

• Use of migrant/temporary labor

• Use of recruitment agencies/contractors

• Non-integrated supply chain

• Excessive overtime due to non-appropriate product planning

4. Community Health, Safety and Security

• Emission of unpleasant odors which may be a nuisance for people living in the vicinity

• Exposure to disease vectors that could be transmitted from stored raw materials and organic waste

• Production of food not meeting food safety requirements

• Increased vehicle traffic due to transport of raw materials and finished products to/from the plant

Top 3 risks and opportunities in the Food and Beverage industry

 1- Beverage production requires large amounts of fresh water, which is also used for cleaning activities, cooling and heating. A reliable and sustainable supply of fresh water is essential for ensuring continuity of production. High-quality fresh water could be required in order to meet quality standards for products. There may be potential for optimizing the efficiency of water use, for preventing shortages and for addressing conflicts with other users of the same water resources.

2- Effluents from the food industry may contain significant quantities of organic material or highly toxic substances. High levels of nutrients and microbes can result in water pollution. Washing fruit or vegetables can contaminate water with pesticides, while the cleaning of production plants may lead to the pollution of water with biocides and detergents.

3- Food processing may also emit unpleasant odors. The processing of meat is usually associated with unpleasant odors, which may be a nuisance for people living in the vicinity.



There are different ways to conduct a risk assessment. One common method is to map your facility and production processes – this can highlight OHS and environmental risks. A common method for labor risks is to use a checklist of risk factors , such as employee demographics, regional labor laws, contracting arrangements, etc.The following are key considerations for a robust risk assessment system:

• Cover environmental, OHS, labor and community risks;

• Conduct at regular intervals – at least once a year;

• Conduct any time there are significant changes to operations;

• Conduct any time there are external changes such as new laws or regulations;

• Include input from all levels of workers and managers;

• Include input from affected communities and other external stakeholders;

• Use external consultants and experts if your staff does not have the capability;

• Assess and prioritize risks according to both the severity and probability of negative impacts;

• Consider risks in your supply chain in addition to those in your company; and

• Scale as appropriate to the size and complexity of your business.

suitcasesmall.jpg Now that you have an understanding of the typical risks in the food and beverage industry, you can first use the Risk Identification Worksheet to identify your potential risks and negative impacts based on your operations and operating environment. Then you can use the Process Mapping Tool or the Physical Mapping Tool to identify in more detail where problems are likely to arise within your production process. Often it is not possible or practical for you to deal with every single environmental and social impact that your company could possibly have. You can use the Risk Assessment Form to prioritize which risks should be addressed first.


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