Risk profiles of pork and poultry meat and risk ratings of various pathogen/product combinations

M Mataragas, P N Skandamis, E H Drosinos
International Journal of Food Microbiology 2008 August 15, 126 (1): 1-12
Risk profiles of pork and poultry meat were carried out using an Excel-based software program, Risk Ranger. It is a semi-quantitative risk estimator answering various questions relating to the probability of exposure to a hazard, susceptibility of the population of interest, severity of the illness caused by the hazard if present and probability of food containing an infectious dose. Therefore, qualitative and quantitative inputs were used to estimate and rank the risk of various hazards/food combinations. Risk scores provided by the tool were characterized as low, medium and high. Also, health risk was estimated separately, where needed, for low and high risk populations. Low risk scores were obtained for Salmonella spp., Listeria monocytogenes and enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) for low risk population. High risk scores were obtained for hepatitis E virus (HEV) in raw pork products (both low and high risk populations). Moderate risk scores for Salmonella spp. and L. monocytogenes in processed pork or poultry-meat products (ready-to-eat or to be reheated) and partially cooked pork products were also obtained (low risk population). Scores for Staphylococcus aureus, Clostridium perfringens and Bacillus cereus and various product types were mostly in the "medium" risk category, except for S. aureus/ready-to-eat pork products able to support growth of the organism, which fell into the high risk category. Campylobacter spp. gave moderate risk scores with one exception (raw poultry products), whereas Y. enterocolitica showed combinations of low risk and few of medium risk. High risk pathogen/product combinations identified were: 1) temperature abused, ready-to-eat pork and/or poultry-meat products with extended shelf life and cross-contaminated by L. monocytogenes (high risk population), EHEC (high risk population) or S. aureus (all population), 2) partially cooked or processed intended to be reheated pork products cross-contaminated by L. monocytogenes, served undercooked and receiving improper cooling or reheating (high risk population), and 3) all people consuming undercooked meals cross-contaminated with Campylobacter spp. (e.g. from raw poultry and raw poultry-meat products) and HEV (e.g. from raw pork and raw pork-meat products). Salmonellae gave high risk scores in all food categories (except preserved meat products) for high risk population. Preserved meats (mainly pork) such as dry fermented sausages gave low risk scores. Only Salmonella spp., L. monocytogenes and E. coli EHEC gave moderate risk ratings in case of ingredients likely to be contaminated at an early stage of processing (e.g. animal at slaughter) and inadequate fermentation process. These results may constitute a source of information for hazard assessment during application of a Food Safety Management System.

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