A rise in foodborne outbreaks in the United States associated with fresh produce has resulted in increased concerns with the importation of fruits and vegetables. Mexico is a major exporter of produce to the United States, particularly tomatoes and bell peppers. A quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA) was conducted to evaluate the public health impact of protozoanladen water irrigating produce in Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico. Specifically, a QMRA was conducted to address the human health impact associated with consumption of tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, and lettuce irrigated with water contaminated with Cryptosporidium and Giardia. Yearly infection risks were estimated and assumed a 120-day exposure in a given year. Annual risks range from 9 x 10 6 for Cryptosporidium at the lowest concentration associated with bell peppers to almost 2 x 10-1 for exposure to Giardia on lettuce at the highest detected concentration. With the relatively high number of illnesses resulting from produce-related outbreaks, addressing pre-and postharvest points of contamination for fruits and vegetables consumed raw should be a food industry priority. This research shows how QMRA can be used to interpret microbial contamination data for public health significance and subsequently provide the foundation for guideline development.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Food Science