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Quantitative Risk Assessment of Listeriosis Due to Consumption of Raw Milk

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The objectives of this study were to estimate the risk of illness for raw milk consumers due to Listeria monocytogenes in raw milk sold by permitted dealers, and the risk for people on farms who consume raw milk. Three scenarios were evaluated for raw milk sold by dealers: raw milk purchased directly from bulk tanks, from on-farm stores, and from retail. To assess the effect of mandatory testing of raw milk by regulatory agencies, the number of listeriosis cases per year was compared where no raw milk testing was done, only a screening test to issue a permit was conducted, and routine testing was conducted and milk was recalled if it was L. monocytogenes positive. The median number of listeriosis cases associated with consumption of raw milk from bulk tanks, farm stores, and retail for an intermediate-age population was 6.6 × 10–7, 3.8 × 10–5, and 5.1 × 10–5 cases per year, respective ly. In populations with high susceptibility, the estimated median number of cases per year was 2.7 × 10–7 (perinatal, i.e., pregnant women and their fetuses or newborns) and 1.4 × 10–6 (elderly) for milk purchased from bulk tanks, 1.5 × 10–5 (perinatal) and 7.8 × 10–5 (elderly) for milk from farm stores, and 2.1 × 10–5 (perinatal) and 1.0 × 10–4 (elderly) for milk from retail. For raw milk consumed on farms, the median number of listeriosis cases was 1.4 × 10–7 cases per year. A greater risk of listeriosis was associated with consumption of raw milk obtained from retail and farm stores as compared with milk obtained from bulk tanks. This was likely due to additional time–temperature combination steps in the retail and farm store models, which increased the chances for growth of L. monocytogenes in raw milk. A close relationship between prevalence of L. monocytogenes in raw milk and the values of disease incidence was observed. Hence, a reduction in the number of cases per year in all populations was observed when a raw milk–testing program was in place, especially when routine testing and recalling of milk was conducted.

Document Type: Review Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Population Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14850, USA. 2: Department of Population Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14850, USA; Department of Nutrition and Food Science and Center for Food Safety and Security Systems, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA 3: Environmental Microbial and Food Safety Laboratory, U. S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Animal and Natural Resources Institute, Beltsville, Maryland 20705, USA 4: Department of Food Science, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA 5: Food Laboratory Division, New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, Albany, New York 12235, USA 6: Department of Population Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14850, USA

Publication date: August 1, 2011

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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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