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Assessment and Control of Microbiological Health Risks Presented by Foods

  • D. A. A. Mossel

Abstract

The best estimate of the real morbidity of food-transmitted disease of microbiological origin is 200 per 106 population per annum. The aetiology of all these diseases is well known; hence control is within reach.

Reliance on end product sampling and examination is worthless due to lack of sensitivity; all that this approach provides is an alibi. Safe products can only be supplied by preventive assurance of microbiological quality, resulting from the application of Good Manufacturing and Distribution Practices (GMPs). These include regular monitoring at all stages of production and distribution. Simple and reliable methods are available which can be applied in daily routine by supervisors without extensive training in laboratory science. Though useless on its own, laboratory examination of final product samples with the aim of monitoring GMPs can be meaningful. Essential criteria have to be deduced from microbial-ecological studies on the specific microbial association that might impair the wholesomeness of each particular commodity. Experience has shown that in many instances, one or two properly devised tests for indicator or index organisms are quite sufficient. These include Enterobacteriaceae, Lancefield group D streptococci, and particular groups of catalase-positive cocci.

Loosely defined and insufficiently quantified microbiological ‘standards’ for foods are useless, if not harmful. On the contrary, Reference Values of the type used in Clinical Medicine are invaluable. Such values for foods should be derived from surveys on a sufficiently large number of appropriate product samples.

Methods for assessing compliance with Reference Values form an essential part of monitoring. Microbiological analytical techniques giving enormous variability and a high margin of error should be abandoned as ritualistic. Considerable further improvement of the methods frequently used for Presence-or-Absence tests for pathogens in foods is urgently required. This applies in particular to Salmonella, Shigella, Yersinia enterocolitica, enteropathogenic Vibrio types and Campylobacter. Adequate resuscitation treatments should always form part of procedures aiming at the quantitative recovery of injured micro-organisms from foods.

Even accurately described and apparently consistent techniques should be submitted to collaborative assaying and validation procedures. This is clearly imperative when such methods are to be adopted for application to foods entering international trade.

Keywords

Yersinia Enterocolitica Microbiological Quality Splenic Abscess Food Protection Fresh Meat 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Applied Science Publishers Ltd 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. A. A. Mossel
    • 1
  1. 1.The University of UtrechtUtrechtThe Netherlands

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