Consumer Phase Risk Assessment for Listeria monocytogenes in Deli Meats
The foodborne disease risk associated with the pathogen Listeria monocytogenes has been the subject of recent efforts in quantitative microbial risk assessment. Building upon one of these efforts undertaken jointly by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the purpose of this work was to expand on the consumer phase of the risk assessment to focus on handling practices in the home. One-dimensional Monte Carlo simulation was used to model variability in growth and cross-contamination of L. monocytogenes during food storage and preparation of deli meats. Simulations approximated that 0.3% of the servings were contaminated with >104 CFU/g of L. monocytogenes at the time of consumption. The estimated mean risk associated with the consumption of deli meats for the intermediate-age population was approximately 7 deaths per 1011 servings. Food handling in homes increased the estimated mean mortality by 106-fold. Of all the home food-handling practices modeled, inadequate storage, particularly refrigeration temperatures, provided the greatest contribution to increased risk. The impact of cross-contamination in the home was considerably less. Adherence to USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service recommendations for consumer handling of ready-to-eat foods substantially reduces the risk of listeriosis.