An official website of the United States government.

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Food Safety Risk Assessment

Investigators
Logue, Catherine
Institutions
North Dakota State University
Start date
2002
End date
2005
Objective
  1. Design a pathway diagram for the production line from slaughter to finish fresh cuts and storage. This study will examine all aspects of the production line and form the basis for the risk assessment model - the information obtained will be used to design an outline of the risk model by highlighting decision nodes (areas of uncertainty) and action nodes (branches in the decision tree representing all possible actions used by the firm) and critical areas where risk is at its greatest - i.e. where Salmonella contamination could influence final product.
  2. Determine the population numbers and types of Salmonella spp. found at points of uncertainty (decision nodes). Carcasses will be examined at the critical points - isolates recovered will be analyzed to determine species type and for other critical factors which may play a role in their selection during production. These factors include antimicrobial resistance, resistance factors such as heat, chlorine, acids and virulence factors.
  3. Evaluate communication factors associated with risk. This objective will evaluate the role of risk communication and how it influences the dynamic model. Studies of how communication procedures commonly used at management and production level influence the understanding and approach to reducing the risk along the production line.
  4. Evaluate psychological factors that contribute to risk of contamination in a production facility. This study will evaluate how psychological factors such as fatigue, social pressures to promote food safety, and attitudes towards avoiding contamination can influence the risk of foodborne pathogen contamination in a production facility.
  5. Use the information obtained from objectives 1, 2, 3 and 4 together to a) Evaluate the likelihood of Salmonella contamination at each decision node and the economic consequences of each contamination point identified. b) Assess cost-effective risk mitigation strategies by determining points along the production line where intervention strategies will have the greatest marginal impact on risk reduction. c) Build a producer-friendly simulation model that producer groups can use to incorporate preventative food safety measures which will be useful in evaluating the economic potential of up-streaming their production control in the food chain thus monopolizing value-added processing opportunities. d) Use the data obtained to build a database and model which will be made available to other researchers working in risk analysis and assessment.
The information will also be used to develop a foundation for future components of the model that involve expansion to the farm and retail levels. The researchers on this project will use outreach methods to effectively communicate the information obtained from the study. They will also serve as liaisons between producers, processors and the current research, by providing benchmark economic, microbial and behavioral data for the poultry industry through assessment of food safety needs at the production level.
More information
NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: Food safety risk assessment models are of paramount importance in determining potential human health risks from foodborne pathogens. The objective of this proposal is to determine the risk of human illness associated with Salmonella species on poultry presented for processing. The study will develop a model to quantitatively predict the risk of human illness from Salmonella spp. as a result of processing practices used; assess cost-effective intervention strategies that could be implemented to improve the safety of the product, and develop methods to effectively communicate this risk to key individuals associated with poultry processing i.e. processors, producers etc. In addition, psychological factors such as tiredness and lack of interest will be evaluated to determine how these factors ultimately contribute to risk. The data generated from this study will add to the knowledge currently being generated in risk assessment and will have a significant impact for food safety and the processing industry not only in the US, but worldwide.

APPROACH: 1 - This objective will be used to design the decision tree and evaluate critical areas on the production line that can influence contamination of poultry meat with Salmonella spp. This objective will involve complete design of a decision tree (event tree) for the production line in order to evaluate critical points during production where contamination may occur. The team will visit the plant to obtain information on the production line and processes and will involve discussions with plant personnel and management to determine areas of uncertainty along the production line. 2 - This study will examine the microbiological levels and incidence of Salmonella spp. occurring at the critical points determined from Objective 1. Sampling will be carried out at regular intervals (monthly, for a period of approximately 9 - 10 months) to determine the incidence and initial number of Salmonella occurring on poultry presented for processing. 3 - Studies will be carried out to effectively create a communication model for the production plant that is designed to assist poultry and other processing companies in acquiring appropriate information related to food safety. The model will involve staff at all levels in distribution and reinforcement of the information, allocation of resources to ensure the appropriate and consistent application of the information and acquiring detailed feedback related to the communication process so that, ultimately a corporate culture emerges within the plant that establishes safety as paramount to all other goals. 4 - This investigation of psychological factors that can contribute to food safety is based upon the premise that food production workers can have a large impact on the contamination of food. Two models of the workers' actions on the production line are proposed to help explain how workers can control contamination as well as promote food safety. 5 - This objective summarizes data from objectives 1 to 4 of the proposal. Sub objective a) - Microbial Quantitative Risk Assessment The data generated from objectives 1 and 2 will be used to carry out a quantitative microbiological risk assessment for model development. Sub-objective b) - Determine Optimum Cost-effective Intervention Strategies There are two forms in which intervention strategies are applied. One would be those defined by regulatory agencies (such as the FDA, USDA-FSIS and others). Second, would be as private sector strategies. Most important in establishing these strategies are that costs increase as risks decreases. Risks are defined as likelihood of Salmonella outbreak throughout the product line or from a particular decision node-resulting in buyers receiving a product that should be rejected; and sellers having a product rejected that should have been accepted. There is a fundamental tradeoff between risks and costs. Tighter intervention strategies result in increased costs and decreased risks. All data obtained form the 4 objectives will be merged to obtain a complete model for the production line.

PROGRESS: 2002/05 TO 2005/04
The work of the project has been completed and has resulted in continuation of some of the themes of this project in later submissions. 1) "Design a pathway diagram for the production line from slaughter to finish fresh cuts and storage". This objective laid the foundation for understanding the production flow process on a turkey line and highlighted points on the line where Salmonella contamination occurred and evaluated factors or processes that contribute to increasing the likelihood of the risk of Salmonella contamination. 2) "Determine the population numbers and types of Salmonella spp. found at points of uncertainty (decision nodes)". This study has completed its work in analysis of the detection and characterization of Salmonella from points of uncertainty. Further molecular characterization will continue in ongoing continuation projects. 3) "Evaluate communication factors associated with risk." Our communications experts have evaluated the role of risk communication and how messages on risk are developed and shared. These studies have entailed evaluation of how communication procedures are used at management and production level and their influence on the understanding and approach to reducing risk. 4) The Psychologists have evaluated motivation and behavioral attitudes and their contribution to our understanding of risk. They have developed model data of the motivation and behavior associated with ensuring product safety and security behaviors. 5) "Use the data obtained to begin the process of building an integrated model". The process of building an integrated model has begun and continuation projects will build on the process started in this project. In overview terms this model has succeeded in a) Evaluating the likelihood of Salmonella contamination at each decision node and the economic consequences of each contamination point identified. b) Assessed cost-effective risk mitigation strategies by determining points along the production line where intervention strategies will have the greatest marginal impact on risk reduction. c) Built a producer-friendly simulation model that producer groups can use to incorporate preventative food safety measures which will be useful in evaluating the economic potential of up-streaming production control in the food chain thus monopolizing value-added processing opportunities. d) Use the data obtained to build a database and model which will be made available to other researchers working in risk analysis and assessment - we have shared data from this model in a range of research venues and through publications. The information has also been used to develop the foundation for continuation projects with the approach to further refining the model and expanding it to include the farm and retail (consumer) levels. The researchers on this project will use outreach methods to effectively communicate the information obtained from the study. They will also serve as liaisons between producers, processors and the current research, by providing benchmark economic, microbial and behavioral data for the poultry industry through assessment of food safety needs at the production level.

IMPACT: 2002/05 TO 2005/04
The impact from this project is evident in the amount of publications and presentations of our research at a range of venues both national and international. It has helped foster alliances with other researchers interested in risk and led to potential new research applications.

Funding Source
Nat'l. Inst. of Food and Agriculture
Project source
View this project
Project number
ND05140
Accession number
191786
Categories
Risk Assessment, Management, and Communication
Bacterial Pathogens
Commodities
Meat, Poultry, Game