• Benchmark dose;
  • food safety;
  • Kullback information;
  • low-dose extrapolation;
  • model uncertainty

Since the National Food Safety Initiative of 1997, risk assessment has been an important issue in food safety areas. Microbial risk assessment is a systematic process for describing and quantifying a potential to cause adverse health effects associated with exposure to microorganisms. Various dose-response models for estimating microbial risks have been investigated. We have considered four two-parameter models and four three-parameter models in order to evaluate variability among the models for microbial risk assessment using infectivity and illness data from studies with human volunteers exposed to a variety of microbial pathogens. Model variability is measured in terms of estimated ED01s and ED10s, with the view that these effective dose levels correspond to the lower and upper limits of the 1% to 10% risk range generally recommended for establishing benchmark doses in risk assessment. Parameters of the statistical models are estimated using the maximum likelihood method. In this article a weighted average of effective dose estimates from eight two- and three-parameter dose-response models, with weights determined by the Kullback information criterion, is proposed to address model uncertainties in microbial risk assessment. The proposed procedures for incorporating model uncertainties and making inferences are illustrated with human infection/illness dose-response data sets.