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Prevalence and Enumeration of Foodborne Microbial Hazards in Retail Raw Meat Products in an Ontario Community


To address food-borne illness in Ontario, the proposed study will link with a Public Health Agency of Canada/Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (PHAC/AAFC) surveillance initiative that is measuring the prevalence of enteric pathogens in animals, retail food, water and humans. The study objectives include linking with the C-EnterNet project to facilitate the enumeration and additional sub-typing of retail food pathogen isolates for one year. In addition, a summary of human health enteric illness data will be developed, in conjunction with analysis of the retail food contamination levels.
The collaborative nature of this project, and the development of retail-level baseline enumeration data for the most important enteric food-borne pathogens, will contribute valuable Ontario-specific data for risk assessment activities and the development of Ontario's Food Safety Objectives. The study directly addresses a number of recommendations from the Haines report. Collaborations will involve the Region of Waterloo Public Health Unit, the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, the Public Health Agency of Canada (Laboratory for Food-borne Zoonoses and Centre for Infectious Disease Prevention and Control), and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Discussions are currently being pursued with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in the US to collaborate on a component of the retail raw meat study (specifically targeting Campylobacter levels on poultry products), and could provide some international comparison data.

The study design is a cross-sectional survey of raw retail pork, beef and poultry contamination (at the consumer level) for a 12-month period, to generate valid and representative data about consumer-level exposure to food-borne pathogens in meat, in one Ontario community.
The study area will be the Regional Municipality of Waterloo, a community of 470,000 residents with urban/rural demographics similar to the Canadian average.

More information

Expected Impact of Project Outcomes on Food Safety in Ontario:

Science-based risk assessment along the food continuum is the modern approach to food safety regulation and policy development and is strongly endorsed by all levels of government. Unfortunately, there are limitations when risk assessment principles are applied to food safety issues, including the complexity of the food system, the lack of baseline data and inherent assumptions made due to information gaps.

This proposal is a collaborative initiative with a five-year PHAC/AAFC study, which will provide Ontario-specific baseline prevalence and enumeration data for enteric pathogen contamination of raw meat products, in order to provide relevant data that can be used in risk assessment.
This study will have many applications to current food issues. Pathogen enumeration baseline data will support OMAF risk managers in the prioritization of mitigation efforts, policy development, and the assessment of Ontario quality assurance and HACCP programs. As well, a number of Justice Haines' recommendations would be addressed.
C-EnterNet will integrate human, agri-food and water data, through enhanced typing procedures, to provide a comprehensive understanding of the link between food-borne pathogens and human health outcomes in Ontario. One of the study objectives is to foster collaborative efforts between jurisdictions and disciplines. One potential collaborative opportunity is a Campylobacter enumeration study on retail chicken, which is in development by the CDC in the US. These collaborations will provide an international perspective to the issue of retail meat contamination, and an exponential return on the investments of all of the collaborative partners. <P> For more information, please visit the <a href="; target="_blank">Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food & Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) Food Safety Research Program</a>.

Pollari, Krank
Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC)
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