Current And Future Implications

Advances in microbial modeling concepts and an increasing number of research studies that report data in a modeled format are making quantitative microbial processing modeling more feasible by providing the individual modeling components for the unit operations. There remains a need for scientific studies to describe the variation about a parameter in addition to reporting the parameter's mean.

The risk assessment will increasingly be used to provide the underlying support for a company's HACCP plan. The risk assessment approach will be used by regulators to change from the classic regulatory approach of specifying specific time-temperature combinations for pasteurization, for example, to performance standards. This will give industry greater freedom in optimizing the safety and quality of products and facilitating adoption of new technologies for microbial inactivation such as high pressure, pulsed electrical fields, UV, and intense light. The U.S. FDA in 1998 specified that nonthermally pasteurized juice manufacturers must design a process that achieves a cumulative 5 log1() inactivation in E. coli 0157:H7 to avoid a safety warning label. The specific process steps and critical control points are chosen by each manufacturer. A complete risk-based regulatory approach would specify the food safety objective, and industry would be responsible for demonstrating that the entire processing system meets that objective. Adoption of this risk-based HACCP system will require public acceptance of the risk paradigm and consensus on the acceptable level of risk and food safety objective.

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