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Quantitative Microbiological Risk Assessment: Principles Applied to Determining the Comparative Risk of Salmonellosis from Chicken Products

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Ensuring microbiological safety requires identification of realistic hazards and the means of controlling them. The risk assessment framework proposed by Codex Alimentarius allows the impact of raw materials and processes to be appreciated, and the output can be used for risk management and communication. Mathematical models allow numerical information to be processed by a computer and interpreted to give quantitative or comparative risk assessments. In this example, models have been put together according to the Codex Alimentarius principles, providing a quantitative risk assessment (QRA) of salmonellosis from frozen poultry products. This model-based QRA takes into account three types of information: occurrence and distribution of the agent, sensitivity of populations to infection (e.g., normal or susceptible), and the effect of cooking (in the factory or home) on concentration of the agent and hence risks of infection after product consumption. It only demonstrates the impact of a single-process step (heating) and the effect of changes in population sensitivity, raw material quality, and cooking regime on the final risk. The effects of growth and recontamination are not considered. To aid risk communication, the models have been visualized by means of displays and slider controls on a computer screen because effective communication is essential to encourage manufacturers and their product designers to assess the effect of changes in processing or materials on risk.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Microbiology Unit, Unilever Research Laboratory, Colworth House, Sharnbrook, Bedfordshire, MK44 1LQ UK

Publication date: November 1, 1998

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