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Int J Food Microbiol. 2004 May 15;93(1):11-29.

Fine-tuning Food Safety Objectives and risk assessment.

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  • 1Microbiological Laboratory for Health Protection, National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, P.O. Box 1, 3720 BA Bilthoven, The Netherlands. arie.havelaar@rivm.nl


Food Safety Objectives (FSOs) have been proposed as a practical tool to translate public health targets for food safety into tolerable levels of pathogens in a food product. The FSO concept is subject to intensive debate, and has not been developed in detail. We evaluate the proposed definition of FSOs and their implementation from the perspective of Quantitative Microbiological Risk Assessment (QMRA). The relationship between QMRA and FSOs is illustrated by a model for the public health risk of Shiga-producing Escherichia coli in steak tartare. We conclude that the proposed definition of FSOs needs to be modified to properly account for variability in and uncertainty about the contamination of food with pathogenic microorganisms and emphasize that both prevalence and concentration of pathogens must be considered. For this purpose, we propose the P-D equivalence curve, a simple graphical tool to separate "tolerable" from "non-tolerable" combinations of prevalence and concentration (dose).

Copyright 2003 Elsevier B.V.

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