Cost-effectiveness proceedures and measures

2. Cost-effectiveness: Proceedures and measures

Analysis of cost effectiveness was undertaken to ensure the approaches proposed by iFAAM help food businesses improve consumer protection whilst minimising cost. The tool for risk management, graded by effectiveness and cost, based on expert opinion, was combined with case studies to generate real-world qualitative cost estimates for individual SMEs. 

These scenarios help information potential users but are not applicable to individual cases. Use of the tools requires training/ support through referral. For more information, contact Sian Astley (sa@eurofir.org) who - for the time being - will pass on enquiries. Ultimately, this will be replaced with a contact form, but the site is currently under construction

Cost estimation is based on expert judgement and should be read in conjunction with efficacy. A high or low investment is not only related to absolute number, but also the return it brings to the exact location or point of application. There are five cost categories (in Euros or US Dollars): Very High (above 100.000 Euros or $) – High (between 20.000 and 100.000) – Medium (5000 – 20.000) – Low (500 - 5000) – Very Low (under 500). This cost estimate only refers to a single investment, some investments may incur frequent (small) additional costs.

On the other hand, efficacy relates to individual measure applied at a specific point in the process or procedure (could be a vulnerability, as assessed by the iFAAM allergen tracking tool, and is where possible independent of other measures. Efficacy does not relate to unexplained allergen presence in the final product. Sometimes, several measures need to be taken in parallel or series. Measure taken at an early stage, where allergens could enter in a subsequent step, might render these efforts ineffective, regardless of cost. Thus, there are three potential efficacy categories: High (potential reduction to below LOD) – Medium (reduction to VITAL levels, i.e. no reason to label any more) – Low (other additional measure(s) required to reduce further (above VITAL), i.e. take measures “in series” or “parallel”).

For each case study, a high-cost scenario was developed in which it was assumed that the SME would prioritise food allergen management over any other investment, because of its goals or unmet food safety requirements, and had the financial capacity to make available any resources required to reach optimal risk allergen management. A high cost scenario also assumes that the SME will choose high effectiveness. A medium-cost scenario assumes that the SME would assign a high priority to food allergen risk management or has unmet food safety requirements, but limited resources. A medium cost scenario also assumes that the SME will choose high-medium effectiveness. A low-cost scenario assumes that the SME would assign a lower priority to allergen risk management or has met food safety requirements and/or has significant financial constraints. There is no assumption regarding effectiveness.

The most significant management measures are listed for each scenario to promote understanding among those responsible for implementation; this is followed by analytical results and likely expectation of UAP to provide context. It should be noted that measures that are not relevant for the SME are not included. Measures that are already in place – at least to some extent – are listed as such. Others are listed as “to be considered” (TBC) and are part of each scenario.

In discussing each cost scenarios, we aimed to identify the specific measures that are of interest, including improvements to existing risk management measures, and whether analytical results or perceived aims of the SMEs make each scenario a feasible choice. Where risk assessment was not possible using either the allergen tracking tool or Tier 1 risk management, we indicate whether food safety requirements are likely to be met. An alternative would be for the SME to undergo Tier 2 assessment (D5.3). Finally, we identify useful elements, from the perspective of a QA manager/ consultant who would apply the tool, and make some assessment of the usefulness of the tool. In some cases, risk management measures were developed by WP5 after the visits, meaning it was not possible to ascertain with certainty whether all the measures identified were in place during the site visits or subsequently (see D5.2), but this uncertainty does not impact the validity of the cost-effectiveness analysis.

The cost-effectiveness scenarios described below (Section 5) and discussion and conclusions (Section 6) have also been published online (e-iFAAM website) with the allergen tracking tool and Tier 1 risk assessment. Currently, these are free-of-charge for SMEs and others wanting to explore the tools and likely outcomes for their activities. Those who determine they are not able to manage food allergen risk using these simple tools are referred to TNO (NL) for assessment using the WP5 Tier 2 tool, which is more sophisticated and is part of a commercial service provided for food businesses of all sizes. 

Risk management option maxtrix (Excel)

3. Examples