A Risk Assessment Model for Campylobacter in Broiler Meat
A quantitative microbiological risk assessment model describes the transmission of Campylobacter through the broiler meat production chain and at home, from entering the processing plant until consumption of a chicken breast fillet meal. The exposure model is linked to a dose-response model to allow estimation of the incidence of human campylobacteriosis. The ultimate objective of the model is to serve as a tool to assess the effects of interventions to reduce campylobacteriosis in the Netherlands. The model describes some basic mechanistics of processing, including the nonlinear effects of cross-contamination between carcasses and their leaking feces. Model input is based on the output of an accompanying farm model and Dutch count data of Campylobacters on the birds' exterior and in the feces. When processing data are lacking, expert judgment is used for model parameter estimation. The model shows that to accurately assess of the effects of interventions, numbers of Campylobacter have to be explicitly incorporated in the model in addition to the prevalence of contamination. Also, as count data usually vary by several orders of magnitude, variability in numbers within and especially between flocks has to be accounted for. Flocks with high concentrations of Campylobacter in the feces that leak from the carcasses during industrial processing seem to have a dominant impact on the human incidence. The uncertainty in the final risk estimate is large, due to a large uncertainty at several stages of the chain. Among others, more quantitative count data at several stages of the production chain are needed to decrease this uncertainty. However, this uncertainty is smaller when relative risks of interventions are calculated with the model. Hence, the model can be effectively used by risk management in deciding on strategies to reduce human campylobacteriosis.
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