Semi-quantitative food safety risk profile of the Australian red meat industry

Marta Hernandez-Jover, Fiona Culley, Jane Heller, Michael P Ward, Ian Jenson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In 2017-18, the Australian red meat (beef, sheep and goat species) industry generated more than $AUD 13 billion in export trade alone and is therefore of substantial importance to the Australian GDP. With both relatively high amounts of domestic red meat consumption and dependence on international markets, food safety risk is constantly reassessed so as to maintain a resilient industry sector. The current study aimed to conduct a food safety risk rating for the Australian red meat industry. In 2002, a food safety risk profile was developed for the Australian red meat industry. It included raw and processed meat products of cattle, sheep and goats and considered microbiological, chemical and physical hazards. The current risk rating was undertaken during 2017 and 2018. The first step was to conduct a hazard characterization, which involved a review of literature and data on foodborne outbreaks, pathogen surveillance and product recalls, and an expert elicitation process with 15 Australian food safety experts. This process identified the Hazard:Product:Process combinations to be considered and the likelihood of contamination at the point of consumption. These likelihood ratings were then combined with hazard severity ratings to qualitatively estimate the relative risk posed by each combination. Combinations with a moderate-to-high risk were included in the semi-quantitative risk rating using Risk Ranger v2, a tool that allows an estimation of the public health risk of hazard: product combinations and a ranking of this risk. The Risk Ranger tool provides a risk ranking (RR), ranging from 0 (no risk) to 100 (every member of the population eats a meal that contains a lethal dose of the hazard every day). STEC E. coli O157 (RR 35-39) and Salmonella spp. (RR 33-37) in undercooked hamburgers and Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat products (RR 35-38) were combinations which had the highest (moderate) risk for the general and susceptible populations. In addition, Toxoplasma gondii in undercooked lamb was identified as posing a high risk among pregnant women (RR 49). The study provides an updated food safety risk profile for the Australian red meat industry which, considering the available information, suggests red meat products do not pose a high food safety risk. The methodology developed in this study provides an easy to implement approach to profile and prioritise food safety risk and relies on data that can generated in most situation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109294
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Food Microbiology
Volume353
Early online date15 Jun 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 02 Sep 2021

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