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The Application of Quantitative Risk Assessment to Microbial Food Safety

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Quantitative risk assessment (QRA) is rapidly accumulating recognition as the most practical method for assessing the risks associated with microbial contamination of foodstuffs. These risk analyses are most commonly developed in commercial computer spreadsheet applications, combined with Monte Carlo simulation add-ins that enable probability distributions to be inserted into a spreadsheet. If a suitable model structure can be defined and all of the variables within that model reasonably quantified, a QRA will demonstrate the sensitivity of the severity of the risk to each stage in the risk-assessment model. It can therefore provide guidance for the selection of appropriate risk-reduction measures and a quantitative assessment of the benefits and costs of these proposed measures. However, very few reports explaining QRA models have been submitted for publication in this area. There is, therefore, little guidance available to those who intend to embark on a full microbial QRA. This paper looks at a number of modeling techniques that can help produce more realistic and accurate Monte Carlo simulation models. The use and limitations of several distributions important to microbial risk assessment are explained. Some simple techniques specific to Monte Carlo simulation modelling of microbial risks using spreadsheets are also offered which will help the analyst more realistically reflect the uncertain nature of the scenarios being modeled. simulation, food safety

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: David Vose Risk Analysis Services, 16 Mill Street, Wincanton, Somerset BA9 9AP, United Kingdom

Publication date: May 1, 1998

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    The Journal of Food Protection (JFP) is a refereed monthly publication. Each issue contains scientific research and authoritative review articles reporting on a variety of topics in food science pertaining to food safety and quality. The Journal is internationally recognized as the leading publication in the field of food microbiology with a readership exceeding 11,000 scientists from 70 countries. The Journal of Food Protection is indexed in Index Medicus, Current Contents, BIOSIS, PubMed, Medline, and many others.

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