P1-15 A Qualitative Microbiological and Chemical Risk Assessment for Potatoes

Monday, July 29, 2013
Exhibit Hall (Charlotte Convention Center)
Susan Leaman, Intertox Decision Sciences, Seattle, WA
Diane Wetherington, Intertox Decision Sciences, Seattle, WA
Introduction: Following the direction of the Food Safety Modernization Act that food safety standards for fresh produce use risk-based approaches, a qualitative risk assessment (QRA) was conducted as a foundation for developing food safety guidelines for the production, harvest, storage and packing of potatoes.

Purpose:  The objective of this QRA was to provide a systematic evaluation of potential chemical and microbiological food safety risks that could arise during primary production and packing operations and the adverse human health effects that could result if adulterated potatoes are consumed.

Methods: The QRA was conducted using the framework developed by National Research Council for assessing exposure risks that may cause adverse human health effects, which includes four elements:  hazard identification, exposure assessment, hazard characterization/dose-response assessment, and risk characterization.  As this assessment was qualitative, a rating system was used to characterize the overall risk. Risk was characterized as negligible (the probability is extremely low), low (the probability is low but clearly possible), medium (the probability is likely), or high (the probability is very likely or certain) or a combination thereof.  An overall risk rating was derived by combining individual risk ratings for potential adverse health effects resulting from exposure to each microbiological or chemical hazard.

Results: We assessed the risk of select human pathogens, cadmium, glycoalkaloids, and pesticides to human health. Based on the results of this analysis, it was concluded that the overall potential risk of adverse health effects due to: 1) human pathogens, 2) cadmium, 3) glycoalkaloids, and 4) pesticide residues obtained through potato consumption were determined to be low.

Significance: The results help focus primary production and packing food safety efforts on areas demonstrating greatest potential risk to human health.  Examining where a pathogen may potentially emerge in the potato supply chain or determining if chemicals in soil are present in tubers, assists the potato industry with the identification of mitigation measures.