Several recent studies assessed the risk associated with consuming meat products potentially infected with T. gondii, according to Abani Pradhan, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Nutrition and Food Science (NFSC) and the Center for Food Safety and Security Systems, and also the director of the NFSC graduate program at the University of Maryland, College Park.
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“We have summarized a recent 10 years of prevalence of T. gondii in conventional and organic meat animals and meat products, and identified risk factors for animal infection at the farm level,” Dr. Pradhan says. “This serves as a useful resource and information repository for informing quantitative risk assessment studies for T. gondii infection in humans through meat consumption.”
Additionally, Dr. Pradhan and his collaborators performed a systematic quality-effects meta-analysis to provide a quantitative estimate of T. gondii prevalence in meat animals. This included confinement raised market pigs, confinement raised sows, non-confinement raised pigs, lamb, goats, and non-confinement raised chickens in the U.S. A meta-analysis is a statistical analysis that combines the results of multiple scientific studies.
T. gondii prevalence in non-confinement raised pigs ranked the highest (31.0 percent), followed by goats (30.7 percent), non-confinement raised chickens (24.1 percent), lambs (22.0 percent), confinement raised sows (16.5 percent), and confinement raised market pigs (5.6 percent).
“These results indicate that T. gondii-infected animals are a food safety concern,” Dr. Pradhan explains. “The computed prevalence can be used as an important input in quantitative microbial risk assessment models to further predict public health burden.”
Dr. Pradhan and his team also evaluated the effects of meat processing on the survival of T. gondii. “The critical steps for inactivating T. gondii tissue cysts along the meat production-to-consumption chain were identified through a qualitative farm-to-retail exposure assessment framework,” he relates. “We then developed dose-response models to predict T. gondii infection in humans from ingestion of T. gondii-infected meats. A dose-response model establishes the relationship between the magnitude of exposure to the hazard and the probability of occurrence of an adverse health effect.”
About Linda L. Leake, MS
Linda L. Leake, doing business as Food Safety Ink, is a food safety consultant, registered SQF contract auditor, and award-winning freelance journalist based in Wilmington, N.C. Specializing in agriculture, food, food safety, and travel, her articles have appeared in some 89 print and online publications. Along with garnering awards for her articles and photographs, she holds the prestigious Master Writer status with American Agricultural Editors’ Association. Majoring in Dairy Science, she completed a BS in Agriculture at the University of Wisconsin and an MS in Food Safety at Michigan State University. She’s an active member of IAFP, Toxicologists Without Borders, Inc., and the National Dairy Shrine. She’s currently enrolled in the International Development Doctoral Program at the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast. Reach her at Llleake@aol.com.