Estimation of Microbial Contamination of Food From Prevalence and Concentration Data

Estimation of Microbial Contamination of Food from Prevalence and Concentration Data: Application to Listeria monocytogenes in Fresh Vegetables.

Appl Environ Microbiol. 2007 Jan;73(1):250-8. Epub 2006 Nov 10

Crepet A, Albert I, Dervin C, Carlin F.

INRA-Met@risk, Methodologies d'Analyse de Risque Alimentaire, INA-PG, 16 rue Claude Bernard, 75231 Paris Cedex 5, France.

A normal distribution and a mixture model of two normal distributions in a Bayesian approach using prevalence and concentration data were used to establish the distribution of contamination of the food-borne pathogenic bacteria Listeria monocytogenes in unprocessed and minimally processed fresh vegetables. A total of 165 prevalence studies, including 15 studies with concentration data, were taken from the scientific literature and from technical reports and used for statistical analysis. The predicted mean of the normal distribution of the logarithms of viable L. monocytogenes per gram of fresh vegetables was -2.63 log viable L. monocytogenes organisms/g, and its standard deviation was 1.48 log viable L. monocytogenes organisms/g. These values were determined by considering one contaminated sample in prevalence studies in which samples are in fact negative. This deliberate overestimation is necessary to complete calculations. With the mixture model, the predicted mean of the distribution of the logarithm of viable L. monocytogenes per gram of fresh vegetables was -3.38 log viable L. monocytogenes organisms/g and its standard deviation was 1.46 log viable L. monocytogenes organisms/g. The probabilities of fresh unprocessed and minimally processed vegetables being contaminated with concentrations higher than 1, 2, and 3 log viable L. monocytogenes organisms/g were 1.44, 0.63, and 0.17%, respectively. Introducing a sensitivity rate of 80 or 95% in the mixture model had a small effect on the estimation of the contamination. In contrast, introducing a low sensitivity rate (40%) resulted in marked differences, especially for high percentiles. There was a significantly lower estimation of contamination in the papers and reports of 2000 to 2005 than in those of 1988 to 1999 and a lower estimation of contamination of leafy salads than that of sprouts and other vegetables. The interest of the mixture model for the estimation of microbial contamination is discussed.