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Title: Qualitative assessment for Toxoplasma gondii exposure risk associated with consumption of meat products in the United States

item GUO, MIAO - University Of Maryland
item BUCHANAN, ROBERT - University Of Maryland
item Dubey, Jitender
item Hill, Dolores
item LAMBERTINI, ELIZABETH - University Of Maryland
item YING, YUGING - University Of Maryland
item GAMBLE, RAY - National Academy Of Science
item JONES, JEFFERY - Centers For Disease Control And Prevention (CDC) - United States
item PRADHAN, ABNI - University Of Maryland

Submitted to: Journal of Food Protection
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/24/2015
Publication Date: 12/1/2015
Citation: Guo, M., Buchanan, R., Dubey, J.P., Hill, D.E., Lambertini, E., Ying, Y., Gamble, R., Jones, J., Pradhan, A. 2015. Qualitative assessment for Toxoplasma gondii exposure risk associated with consumption of meat products in the United States. Journal of Food Protection. 78(12):2207-2219.

Interpretive Summary: Toxoplasma gondii is a protozoan parasite that is responsible for approximately 24% of deaths attributed to foodborne pathogens in the United States. It is thought that a substantial portion of human T. gondii infections is acquired through the consumption of meats. The authors review studies on the risk factors associated with treatment or processing of meat from the farm to the dining table. They provide data for each step/procedure (for example, washing, singing, salt additives, and curing of meat on Toxoplasma infectivity. This paper should be of interest to biologists, parasitologists, veterinarians and public health workers.

Technical Abstract: Toxoplasma gondii is a global protozoan parasite capable of infecting most warm-blooded animals. Although healthy adult humans generally have no symptoms after postnatally-acquired infection, severe illness does occur in immunocompromised individuals. Epidemiological studies have demonstrated that consumption of raw or undercooked meat products is one of major sources of infection with T. gondii. The goal of this study was to develop a framework to qualitatively estimate the exposure risk to Toxoplasma from various meat products consumed in the U. S. Risk estimates of various meats were analyzed by a farm-to-retail qualitative assessment which include evaluation of farm, abattoir, storage and transportation, meat processing, packaging and retail modules. It was found that exposure risks associated with meats from free-range chickens, goat and lamb are higher than those from pigs, cattle, and caged-chickens. For fresh meat products, risk at the retail level was similar to that at the farm level unless meats had been frozen or moisture-enhanced. Our results showed that meat processing such as salting, freezing, commercial hot air drying, long time fermentation, hot smoking, and cooking are able to reduce T. gondii levels in meat products, whereas nitrite/nitrate, spice, low pH, and cold storage have no effect on the viability of T. gondii tissue cysts. Raw-fermented sausage, cured raw meat, non-hot air dried meat and fresh processed meat were associated with higher exposure risks as compared with cooked meat. This study provides a reference for meat management control programs to determine critical control points, and the foundation for future quantitative risk assessments.