Meat and meat products can be contaminated with different species of bacteria resistant to various antimicrobials. The human health risk of a type of meat or meat product carry by emerging antimicrobial resistance depends on (i) the prevalence of contamination with resistant bacteria, (ii) the human health consequences of an infection with a specific bacterium resistant to a specific antimicrobial and (iii) the consumption volume of a specific product. The objective of this study was to compare the risk for consumers arising from their exposure to antibiotic resistant bacteria from meat of four different types (chicken, pork, beef and veal), distributed in four different product categories (fresh meat, frozen meat, dried raw meat products and heat-treated meat products). A semi-quantitative risk assessment model, evaluating each food chain step, was built in order to get an estimated score for the prevalence of Campylobacter spp., Enterococcus spp. and Escherichia coli in each product category. To assess human health impact, nine combinations of bacterial species and antimicrobial agents were considered based on a published risk profile. The combination of the prevalence at retail, the human health impact and the amount of meat or product consumed, provided the relative proportion of total risk attributed to each category of product, resulting in a high, medium or low human health risk. According to the results of the model, chicken (mostly fresh and frozen meat) contributed 6.7% of the overall risk in the highest category and pork (mostly fresh meat and dried raw meat products) contributed 4.0%. The contribution of beef and veal was of 0.4% and 0.1% respectively. The results were tested and discussed for single parameter changes of the model. This risk assessment was a useful tool for targeting antimicrobial resistance monitoring to those meat product categories where the expected risk for public health was greater. © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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