The Impact of Consumer Phase Models in Microbial Risk Analysis

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In quantitative microbiological risk assessment (QMRA), the consumer phase model (CPM) describes the part of the food chain between purchase of the food product at retail and exposure. Construction of a CPM is complicated by the large variation in consumer food handling practices and a limited availability of data. Therefore, several subjective (simplifying) assumptions have to be made when a CPM is constructed, but with a single CPM their impact on the QMRA results is unclear. We therefore compared the performance of eight published CPMs for Campylobacter in broiler meat in an example of a QMRA, where all the CPMs were analyzed using one single input distribution of concentrations at retail, and the same dose-response relationship. It was found that, between CPMs, there may be a considerable difference in the estimated probability of illness per serving. However, the estimated relative risk reductions are less different for scenarios modeling the implementation of control measures. For control measures affecting the Campylobacter  prevalence, the relative risk is proportional irrespective of the CPM used. However, for control measures affecting the concentration the CPMs show some difference in the estimated relative risk. This difference is largest for scenarios where the aim is to remove the highly contaminated portion from human exposure. Given these results, we conclude that for many purposes it is not necessary to develop a new detailed CPM for each new QMRA. However, more observational data on consumer food handling practices and their impact on microbial transfer and survival are needed to generalize this conclusion.
Original languageEnglish
JournalRisk Analysis
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)255-265
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Food microbiology
  • Campylobacter
  • Consumer phase

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