Brusa V, Costa M, Padola NL, Etcheverria A, Sampedro F, Fernandez PS, Leotta GA, Signorini ML. 2020. Quantitative risk assessment of haemolytic uremic syndrome associated with beef consumption in Argentina. PLOS ONE 15(11): e0242317.
We developed a quantitative microbiological risk assessment (QMRA) of haemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) associated with Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC)-contaminated beef (intact beef cuts, ground beef and commercial hamburgers) in children under 15 years of age from Argentina. The QMRA was used to characterize STEC prevalence and concentration levels in each product through the Argentinean beef supply chain, including cattle primary production, cattle transport, processing and storage in the abattoir, retail and home preparation, and consumption. Median HUS probability from beef cut, ground beef and commercial hamburger consumption was <10−15, 5.4×10-8 and 3.5×10-8, respectively. The expected average annual number of HUS cases was 0, 28 and 4, respectively. Risk of infection and HUS probability were sensitive to the type of abattoir, the application or not of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) for STEC (HACCP-STEC), stx prevalence in carcasses and trimmings, storage conditions from the abattoir to retailers and home, the joint consumption of salads and beef products, and cooking preference. The QMRA results showed that the probability of HUS was higher if beef cuts (1.7x) and ground beef (1.2x) were from carcasses provided by abattoirs not applying HACCP-STEC. Thus, the use of a single sanitary standard that included the application of HACCP-STEC in all Argentinean abattoirs would greatly reduce HUS incidence. The average number of annual HUS cases estimated by the QMRA (n = 32) would explain about 10.0% of cases in children under 15 years per year in Argentina. Since other routes of contamination can be involved, including those not related to food, further research on the beef production chain, other food chains, person-to-person transmission and outbreak studies should be conducted to reduce the impact of HUS on the child population of Argentina.