Submitted to: Omics Technologies and Microbial Modeling in Food-borne Pathogens
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: February 24, 2011
Publication Date: February 1, 2012
Citation: Oscar, T.P. 2012. Innovative modeling approaches for risk assessment in food safety. Omics Technologies and Microbial Modeling in Food-borne Pathogens. Lancaster, PA: DEStech Publications, Inc. 389-422. Technical Abstract: Food safety involves preventing foodborne illness by describing ways to properly handle, prepare and store food. Regulation of food safety is applied to companies that produce food. Thus, the goal of food safety regulation is to reduce human pathogens to acceptable levels at the processing plant through proper handling, processing and storage of food. Food in the processing plant is classified as safe when it meets established microbial performance standards. A limitation of this approach to food safety is that it does not consider differences in virulence (ability to cause disease in humans) among pathogens and it does not consider post-processing risk factors (temperature abuse, cross-contamination, under-cooking, at-risk consumers) in its assessment of food safety. On the other hand, risk assessment is a holistic approach to food safety that does consider differences in virulence among pathogens and post-processing risk factors in its assessment of food safety. Risk assessment consists of four steps: 1) hazard identification; 2) exposure assessment; 3) hazard characterization; and 4) risk characterization. Application of risk assessment at the processing plant can simultaneously improve food safety and security by properly identifying safe and unsafe food. This book chapter describes innovative modeling methods for application of risk assessment at the processing plant to ensure food safety and security. More specifically, this book chapter describes and demonstrates the Food Assess Risk Model or FARM, which is a generic risk assessment model for foodborne pathogens that was developed in an Excel (MicroSoft Corp.) notebook and is simulated with @Risk (Palisade Corp.), a spreadsheet add-in program. FARM predicts the change in incidence and number of three pathogens (Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella enterica and Campylobacter jejuni) on food servings as they move from packaging in the processing plant to consumption. In addition, FARM predicts the severity of foodborne illness from food servings contaminated with these three pathogens and produced by different packaging-to-consumption scenarios. FARM serves as a prototype model for how risk assessment can be applied at the processing plant to better identify safe and unsafe lots of food. The goal of FARM is to maximize the public health benefit of food by ensuring both its safety and consumption.