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A Poultry-Processing Model for Quantitative Microbiological Risk Assessment


*Address correspondence to Maarten Nauta, Microbiological Laboratory for Health Protection (MGB), National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), PO Box 1, 3720 BA, Bilthoven, the Netherlands; tel: +31 30 2742805; fax: +31 30 274 4434;


A poultry-processing model for a quantitative microbiological risk assessment (QMRA) of campylobacter is presented, which can also be applied to other QMRAs involving poultry processing. The same basic model is applied in each consecutive stage of industrial processing. It describes the effects of inactivation and removal of the bacteria, and the dynamics of cross-contamination in terms of the transfer of campylobacter from the intestines to the carcass surface and the environment, from the carcasses to the environment, and from the environment to the carcasses. From the model it can be derived that, in general, the effect of inactivation and removal is dominant for those carcasses with high initial bacterial loads, and cross-contamination is dominant for those with low initial levels. In other QMRA poultry-processing models, the input-output relationship between the numbers of bacteria on the carcasses is usually assumed to be linear on a logarithmic scale. By including some basic mechanistics, it is shown that this may not be realistic. As nonlinear behavior may affect the predicted effects of risk mitigations; this finding is relevant for risk management. Good knowledge of the variability of bacterial loads on poultry entering the process is important. The common practice in microbiology to only present geometric mean of bacterial counts is insufficient: arithmetic mean are more suitable, in particular, to describe the effect of cross-contamination. The effects of logistic slaughter (scheduled processing) as a risk mitigation strategy are predicted to be small. Some additional complications in applying microbiological data obtained in processing plants are discussed.