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Assessment of Food as a Source of Exposure to Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP)

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The National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods assessed the importance of food as a source of exposure to Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP). MAP is the causative agent of Johne's disease, which affects primarily the small intestine of all ruminants. The significance of MAP as a human pathogen is unknown and is being investigated by several research groups. This document also reviews the efficacy of current detection methods, processing interventions, and MAP inactivation. Research needs related to MAP are provided. The Committee reached the following conclusions: current methods for detection of MAP have significant limitations, and a standard method for the detection of viable MAP cells is needed. Aside from MAP-infected domestic ruminant animals, the organism is found infrequently. If MAP in cattle is controlled, the source of MAP in other animals, food, and water may largely be eliminated. Milk, particularly raw milk, may be a likely food source for human exposure to MAP. Given the prevalence of MAP in U.S. cattle herds, ground beef may be a potential source of MAP. Although humans may be exposed to MAP through a variety of routes, including food and the environment, the frequency and amount of exposure will require additional research.

Document Type: Review Article

Affiliations: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Office of Public Health Science, Room 333 Aerospace Center, 1400 Independence Avenue S.W., Washington, DC 20250-3700, USA; gerri.ransom@fsis.usda.gov

Publication date: July 1, 2010

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    First published in 1937, the Journal of Food Protection®, 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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