Veg-i-Trade Horticultural Safety Management System diagnostic instrument training event
November 16th and 17th 2011
Ghent, Gelgium
Organised by Wageningen University and in collaboration with the Ghent University
The HSMS-DI is constructed based on the principles behind an already existing diagnostic instrument, aimed at assessing performance of Food Safety Management Systems of processing industries for animal derived products such as meat and dairy products. This tool was developed in the frame of FP6 EU project Pathogen Combat and is still on line available via The instrument encompasses a systematic analysis of core control and assurance activities which are addressed in the company specific system and it includes an assessment of the levels at which these control and assurance activities are executed via self-assessment.
For more information, please contact Liesbeth Jacxsens,
WP3 leader Veg-i-Trade at Ghent University :
++ 32 9 264 60 85
Control activities aim at keeping product properties, production processes, and human processes between certain acceptable tolerances, whereas the objective of assurance activities is to control the system and to provide evidence and confidence to stakeholders about meeting the set requirements (Luning et al., 2008; 2009). Moreover, the instrument includes an assessment of
the riskiness of the contextual situation wherein the FSMS has to operate in view of the decision making activities (Luning et al., 2010), and a diagnosis of the food safety output of the system (Jacxsens et al., 2010).

The concept behind the diagnosis is as follows:
if the system needs to operate in a high risk context then advanced activities are required to result in a predictable and controllable food safety output, whereas in a low-risk context more simple systems are expected to be sufficient for realising a good food safety output as well
Riskiness is used as the general criteria to differentiate the context factors in three levels. The context is defined as more risky when there is more ambiguity, uncertainty, and vulnerability due to the typical context characteristics. This assumption is because food safety management situations are ambiguous due to the dynamic and complex mechanisms in food and human systems, combined with a lack of understanding of these mechanisms (Luning and Marcelis, 2006). Second, decision-makers are often confronted with uncertainty due to a clear need for information combined with insufficient information systems (Luning & Marcelis, 2006, 2007). Third, when actually decisions are made vulnerability comes in as a complicating aspect. Further on, different levels for control and assurance activities are defined, as well as for the food safety output of the HSMS. The advanced level of FSMS activities is typified by being based on scientific knowledge, adequate information, systematic methods, procedural-driven, and independent positions (Luning et al., 2008, 2009). The good performance of the food safety output is referring to systematic evaluation of the HSMS using specific criteria and having no food safety problems (Jacxsens et al., 2010).