Risk Assessment and Risk Communication for <i>Listeria monocytogenes</i> in Ready-to-Eat Foods with a Focus on Food Handling at Home
Yang, H., Morales, R. A., Jaykus, L. A., Cates, S. C., Ten-Ecyk, T., Patil, S., & Cowen, P. (2003, August). Risk Assessment and Risk Communication for Listeria monocytogenes in Ready-to-Eat Foods with a Focus on Food Handling at Home. Presented at International Association for Food Protection Annual Meeting, New Orleans, LA.
Estimates from surveillance data indicate that at least 50% of foodborne diseases is caused by poor food handling at home. However, consumers believe that responsibility for food safety problems lies primarily with food manufacturers, retailers, institutions, or possibly food preparation by restaurants or other individuals. Preliminary data revealed that many consumers lack the motivation to change their food preparation behaviors because of overconfidence in their own food handling practices. This paper describes a risk assessment model that incorporates new data on consumers' attitudes and food-handling behaviors based on personal interviews, focus groups and a survey of 1000 households. We defined "appropriate" and "inappropriate" practices for preparing ready-to-eat (RTE) foods at home and assessed the associated risk from Listeria monocytogenes. The model expands the FDA risk assessment model for Listeria monocytogenes in RTE foods, focusing on three popular foods categorized as high risk in the FDA model: deli meat, deli salad, and frankfurters. Cross-contamination during shopping, storage and food preparation, as well as temperature and time for transportation, refrigeration, and handling of left-overs, were modeled. Risks were assessed for perinatal, elderly and intermediate-age subpopulations. The most critical practices for different food categories were identified by sensitivity analysis. The results of the risk assessment will be used for designing risk communication messages for consumers. A consumer selfevaluation of his/her own food handling behaviors, followed by communication of the relative risk associated with those behaviors, may promote consumer motivation to acquire more food safety knowledge and to change behavior.