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A Semiquantitative Approach for Evaluating Safety Assurance Levels for Salmonella spp. throughout a Food Production Chain

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Abstract:

Various safety assurance measures are implemented in Switzerland throughout the food production chain to prevent foods of animal origin from being contaminated with Salmonella. The data that are generated from the implementation of these measures are dispersed and heterogeneous. This hinders a general overview and makes a comprehensive national evaluation of the safety assurance level difficult. A semiquantitative method that considers the quality and relevance of the various safety assurance measures for Salmonella spp. was developed. The method uses the data generated from the implementation of safety assurance measures on a national basis (gathered by interviewing stakeholders in the production step). By assembling and analyzing the data systematically, the safety assurance level for Salmonella spp. can be evaluated at every step of the food production chain. This method allows the detection of strengths and weaknesses of the safety system. The systematic evaluation procedures permit comparisons between production steps and product categories. The method was used for evaluating the safety assurance levels throughout the production chain of eggs and egg products in Switzerland. Results of the analysis showed that the overall safety assurance levels for Salmonella spp. at all production steps for eggs and egg products were good. The relatively straightforward implementation of the method made it particularly appropriate in the context of a preliminary evaluation. The method does not have the same high level of detail that is provided by microbial quantitative risk assessments, but it allows an analyst to provide meaningful results when the large amount of data required for a quantitative approach are not present while including the entire ''farm to fork'' continuum. It may be used as a basis for more in-depth assessments of food safety levels within various production sectors. The method could be adapted for evaluating the safety assurance for other zoonotic foodborne pathogens of interest, such as Campylobacter spp.

Keywords:

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Swiss Federal Veterinary Office, Schwarzenburgstrasse 161, CH-3003 Bern 2: Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Institute for Animal Sciences, Universita¨tstrasse

Publication date: 2003-07-01

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