Under the Food Safety Modernization Act, signed into law in January of this year, the FDA has a mandate to prioritize facility inspections according to risk. Highest risk would be foods implicated in outbreaks, and companies involved in related recalls. To help facilitate this decision process the University of Florida, Emerging Pathogen Institute, did an analysis of pathogen/ food combinations that have had the greatest impact on Quality Adjusted Life Years (QALY). QALY not only accounts for the immediate severity of an illness resulting from a food borne incident, but the long term consequences of having suffered a particular disease caused by contaminated food. Out of 168 possible food/pathogen combinations, involving 14 disease causing organisms, the top 10 combinations were selected based on QALY and cost criteria. Of course Salmonella and Listeria were among the top ranked concerns. But another organism, often overlooked in medical or epidemiological investigations, Toxoplasma gondii, appeared twice on the list.
This organism is associated primarily with beef and pork and transmitted by eating raw meat. Symptoms range from physical to psychological, effecting women and men differently. And when passed thru the placenta Toxoplasmosis is very damaging to fetal development. Cats are typical intermediate hosts, and acquire the disease by eating rodents containing cysts in their muscle and nervous tissue. The organism affects the brains of these rodents causing the release of dopamine and an unfortunate attraction to cats.
According to the UF Emerging Pathogens Institute, the top 10 pathogen/food combinations are: 1. Campylobacter/poultry, 2. Toxoplasma/pork, 3. Listeria/deli meats, 4. Salmonella/poultry, 5. Listeria/dairy products, 6. Salmonella/complex foods, 7. norovirus/complex foods, 8. Salmonella/produce, 9. Toxoplasma/beef and 10. Salmonella/eggs.
Given the priority given to monitoring these categories by the FDA, I am sure customers will also pay special attention to the safety of these products. . Processors, and their suppliers, must employ the best sanitation practices to prevent these food/pathogen combinations from occurring. Nelson-Jameson can help design a hygiene monitoring program, using a variety of reliable environmental testing tools, to ensure these measures are effective . See our Sanitation & Environmental Testing literature for examples of hygiene monitoring products from Nelson-Jameson.