Foodborne zoonoses due to meat: a quantitative approach for a comparative risk assessment applied to pig slaughtering in Europe.Vet Res. 2008 Jan-Feb; 39(1):1.VR
Foodborne zoonoses have a major health impact in industrialised countries. New European food safety regulations were issued to apply risk analysis to the food chain. The severity of foodborne zoonoses and the exposure of humans to biological hazards transmitted by food must be assessed. For meat, inspection at the slaughterhouse is historically the main means of control to protect consumers. However, the levels of detection of biological hazards during meat inspection have not been established in quantitative terms yet. Pork is the most frequently consumed meat in Europe. The aim of this study was to provide elements for quantifying levels of risk for pork consumers and lack of detection by meat inspection. Information concerning hazard identification and characterisation was obtained by the compilation and statistical analysis of data from 440 literature references. The incidence and severity of human cases due to pork consumption in Europe were assessed in order to calculate risk scores. A ratio of non-control was calculated for each biological hazard identified as currently established in Europe, i.e. the incidence of human cases divided by the prevalence of hazards on pork. Salmonella enterica, Yersinia enterocolitica and Campylobacter spp. were characterised by high incidence rates. Listeria monocytogenes, Clostridium botulinum and Mycobacterium spp. showed the highest severity scores. The three main high risk hazards involved in foodborne infections, Y. enterocolitica, S. enterica and Campylobacter spp. are characterised by high non-control ratios and cannot be detected by macroscopic examination of carcasses. New means of hazard control are needed to complement the classical macroscopic examination.