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Draft Risk Assessment of the Public Health Impact of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in Ground Beef

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An assessment of the risk of illness associated with Escherichia coli O157:H7 in ground beef was drafted in 2001. The exposure assessment considers farm, slaughter, and preparation factors that influence the likelihood of humans consuming ground beef servings containing E. coli O157:H7 and the number of cells in a contaminated serving. Apparent seasonal differences in prevalence of cattle infected with E. coli O157:H7 corresponded to seasonal differences in human exposure. The model predicts that on average 0.018% of servings consumed during June through September and 0.007% of servings consumed during the remainder of the year are contaminated with one or more E. coli O157:H7 cells. This exposure risk is combined with the probability of illness given exposure (i.e., dose response) to estimate a U.S. population risk of illness of nearly one illness in each 1 million (9.6 × 10-7) servings of ground beef consumed. Uncertainty about this risk ranges from about 0.33 illness in every 1 million ground beef servings at the 5th percentile to about two illnesses in every 1 million ground beef servings at the 95th percentile.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Office of Public Health Science, Food Safety and Inspection Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2150 Centre Avenue, Building B, Fort Collins, Colorado 80521, USA 2: Office of Public Health and Sciences, Food Safety and Inspection Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2700 South Earl Rudder Parkway, Suite 3000, College Station, Texas 77845, USA 3: Office of Public Health and Sciences, Food Safety and Inspection Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Maildrop 334 Aerospace Center, 1400 Independence Avenue S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-3700, USA 4: Economic Research Service, U. S. Department of Agriculture, Room N4069, 1800 M Street N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036-5831, USA 5: Animal Production and Health Division, Food and Agriculture Organization, Room C539, Rome, Italy 6: Department of Food and Resource Economics, 210 Townsend Hall, University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware 19717, USA 7: Office of Risk Assessment and Cost Benefit Analysis, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Room 5248, 1400 Independence Avenue S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250, USA

Publication date: September 1, 2004

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