Risk Assessment of Escherichia coli O157 Illness from Consumption of Hamburgers in the United States Made from Australian Manufacturing Beef

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Abstract

We analyze the risk of contracting illness due to the consumption in the United States of hamburgers contaminated with enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) of serogroup O157 produced from manufacturing beef imported from Australia. We have used a novel approach for estimating risk by using the prevalence and concentration estimates of E. coli O157 in lots of beef that were withdrawn from the export chain following detection of the pathogen. For the purpose of the present assessment an assumption was that no product is removed from the supply chain following testing. This, together with a number of additional conservative assumptions, leads to an overestimation of E. coli O157-associated illness attributable to the consumption of ground beef patties manufactured only from Australian beef. We predict 49.6 illnesses (95%: 0.0–148.6) from the 2.46 billion hamburgers made from 155,000 t of Australian manufacturing beef exported to the United States in 2012. All these illness were due to undercooking in the home and less than one illness is predicted from consumption of hamburgers cooked to a temperature of 68 °C in quick-service restaurants.

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