Currently, risk assessment of nanotechnology-enabled food products is considered difficult due to the large number of uncertainties involved. We developed an approach which could address some of the main uncertainties through the use of expert judgment. Our approach employs a multi-criteria decision model, based on probabilistic inversion that enables capturing experts’ preferences in regard to safety of nanotechnology-enabled food products, and identifying their opinions in regard to the significance of key criteria that are important in determining the safety of such products. An advantage of these sample-based techniques is that they provide out-of-sample validation and therefore a robust scientific basis. This validation in turn adds predictive power to the model developed. We achieved out-of-sample validation in two ways: (1) a portion of the expert preference data was excluded from the model’s fitting and was then predicted by the model fitted on the remaining rankings and (2) a (partially) different set of experts generated new scenarios, using the same criteria employed in the model, and ranked them; their ranks were compared with ranks predicted by the model. The degree of validation in each method was less than perfect but reasonably substantial. The validated model we applied captured and modelled experts’ preferences regarding safety of hypothetical nanotechnology-enabled food products. It appears therefore that such an approach can provide a promising route to explore further for assessing the risk of nanotechnology-enabled food products.
- risk assessment
- expert judgment
- multi-criteria decision models
- nanotechnology food products