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Survey analysis of microbial contamination of fresh produce and ready-to-eat salads, and the associated risk to consumers in the Netherlands

Analyse van onderzoek naar de microbiele besmetting van onbewerkte groente en kant en klare gemengde salades, en de daarmee samenhangende risico's voor de Nederlandse consument

Synopsis

The risk of ready-to-eat mixed salads in Dutch supermarkets being contaminated with the bacteria Campylobacter, Salmonella, Escherichia (E.) coli O 157 and Listeria monocytogenes is slight, less than 0.26 percent. It has been estimated that approximately 22 persons fall ill each year from Campylobacter infection following consumption of these products. This is a fraction of the number of people who fall ill from Campylobacter following the consumption of poultry (about 12,000 per year). This information has been revealed in a survey conducted by the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) and the Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (VWA). In this survey, the risk for contamination in the whole production chain of these mixed salads was studied. The ingredients for these mixed salad products were produced mainly in the Netherlands. The survey included 4,180 samples. The unprocessed produce and ready-to-eat mixed salads were examined for the presence (qualitative and quantitative) of the above-mentioned pathogens at fixed places in the production chain. In addition, the risk of illness from eating these products was calculated. On this point, the main uncertainty relates to a lack of dose response data - in other words, what is the number of bacteria needed before people actually become ill?
 

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