• Cheese process;
  • cross-contamination;
  • lag time modeling;
  • quantitative microbiological risk assessment;
  • recontamination

According to Codex Alimentarius Commission recommendations, management options applied at the process production level should be based on good hygiene practices, HACCP system, and new risk management metrics such as the food safety objective. To follow this last recommendation, the use of quantitative microbiological risk assessment is an appealing approach to link new risk-based metrics to management options that may be applied by food operators.

Through a specific case study, Listeria monocytogenes in soft cheese made from pasteurized milk, the objective of the present article is to practically show how quantitative risk assessment could be used to direct potential intervention strategies at different food processing steps.

Based on many assumptions, the model developed estimates the risk of listeriosis at the moment of consumption taking into account the entire manufacturing process and potential sources of contamination. From pasteurization to consumption, the amplification of a primo-contamination event of the milk, the fresh cheese or the process environment is simulated, over time, space, and between products, accounting for the impact of management options, such as hygienic operations and sampling plans. A sensitivity analysis of the model will help orientating data to be collected prioritarily for the improvement and the validation of the model.

What-if scenarios were simulated and allowed for the identification of major parameters contributing to the risk of listeriosis and the optimization of preventive and corrective measures.