Polish raw-milk cheeses produced in short supply chains may pose a threat to consumer safety due to pathogen presence. Listeria monocytogenes is a bacterium of great importance for the food safety of refrigerated RTE foods due to its ability to grow at refrigeration temperatures.
During the EU-FORA fellowship, a stochastic risk assessment was designed and executed to estimate the risk for consumers from L. monocytogenes in these products. The aim was to develop a probabilistic QMRA model that would incorporate the variability and uncertainty of the model’s inputs such as prevalence, initial concentration levels, product intrinsic factors, domestic storage temperature and consumer behaviour. The project involved data collection and analysis, growth model selection, mathematical modelling and Monte Carlo analysis in R programming language.
Microbiological and physicochemical testing were carried out throughout the year on two types of cheeses in combination with a domestic refrigerator temperature survey and accompanying consumption questionnaire. Collected data were fitted to probability distributions using R. The appropriate growth model for the pathogen was selected based on an inoculation study performed on one of the raw-milk cheeses and the chosen mathematical model was written into the R script developed for the QMRA. The dose–response model used the ingested dose calculated from the modelled concentration of L. monocytogenes at the time of consumption and the single serving size from the questionnaire to estimate the probability of illness. The final risk was expressed as probability of listeriosis for Polish consumers per serving of raw-milk cheese.