Probabilistic Supply Chain Risk Model for Food Safety

Matteo Convertino, Song Liang


Food safety is a complex issue for the worldwide population. Over the last decade foodborne outbreaks have shown an increasing trend. Foodborne outbreaks in the USA caused in 2010 a cost of $ 152 billion related to 325,000 hospitalized persons and 5000. Scalable models that address the need of integrating epidemiological, social, and trade information in an operation research setting are in strong demand to reduce the US and global public health risk.

Here we propose a model for the assessment of the potential health risk of food commodities based on the food supply chain (FSC) as a subset of the international agro-food trade network. The model integrates concepts of network science in the supply chain and risk factors related to the food life-cycle that occurs along the FSC. We consider the food-pathogen risk from the production to the distribution, screening and manufacturing flaw risks, transportation and intermediary country risks, country and manufacturer risks. The number of connected countries, the betweenness centrality of the exporting countries, and the average path length are the supply network variables considered. Considering the safety of each country and the network variables we introduce a global safety index (GSI) for characterizing the riskiness of each country based on local and FSC variables. The potential health risk is characterized by a multimodal distribution and a ranking of food-pathogen-country triples reveals the unsafest paths of the FSC. Global sensitivity and uncertainty analyses show that the network variables are driving the potential health risk, thus they are crucial for public health risk management. The intermediary country risk, the food-pathogen health risk, and the company reliability are the second most important factors for the potential health risk. Policies that act on both the supply chain variables and the safety index by means of the GSI reduce of 44 % the average health risk. This reduction is much larger than the reduction of policies focused on individual risk factors of the food life-cycle. Complex food, composed by multiple ingredients, are among the riskiest foods and their risk is driven by the FSC complexity.

Current management practices are focused on intervention after local outbreak cases and food-pathogen relationships with little attention on prior global FSC interventions. The FSC model here presented is scalable to any level of the global food system and offers a novel perspective in which the global public health is conceived, monitored and regulated. 


food safety, food supply chain, risk, pathogens, network, trade, public health

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