Risk Assessment of Salmonellosis from Consumption of Alfalfa Sprouts and Evaluation of the Public Health Impact of Sprout Seed Treatment and Spent Irrigation Water Testing
PUBLISHED ON Jan 16, 2018
LAST UPDATED Oct 16, 2019
Metadata Updated: October 16, 2019

Risk Analysis, Vol. 38, No. 8, 2018, DOI: 10.1111/risa.12964
Yuhuan Chen 1 ,Regis Pouillot 1, Sofia M. Santillana Farakos1, Steven Duret1, Judith Spungen1, Tong-Jen Fu2, Fazila Shakir1, Patricia A. Homola1, Sherri Dennis1, and Jane M. Van Doren1
1Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, College Park, MD, USA.
2Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Bedford Park, IL, USA.


We developed a risk assessment of human salmonellosis associated with consumption of alfalfa sprouts in the United States to evaluate the public health impact of applying treatments to seeds (0-5-log10 reduction in Salmonella) and testing spent irrigation water (SIW) during production. The risk model considered variability and uncertainty in Salmonella contamination in seeds, Salmonella growth and spread during sprout production, sprout consumption, and Salmonella dose response. Based on an estimated prevalence of 2.35% for 6.8 kg seed batches and without interventions, the model predicted 76,600 (95% confidence interval (CI) 15,400-248,000) cases/year. Risk reduction (by 5- to 7-fold) predicted from a 1-log10 seed treatment alone was comparable to SIW testing alone, and each additional 1-log10 seed treatment was predicted to provide a greater risk reduction than SIW testing. A 3-log10 or a 5-log10 seed treatment reduced the predicted cases/year to 139 (95% CI 33-448) or 1.4 (95% CI <1-4.5), respectively. Combined with SIW testing, a 3-log10 or 5-log10 seed treatment reduced the cases/year to 45 (95% CI 10-146) or <1 (95% CI <1-1.5), respectively. If the SIW coverage was less complete (i.e., less representative), a smaller risk reduction was predicted, e.g., a combined 3-log10 seed treatment and SIW testing with 20% coverage resulted in an estimated 92 (95% CI 22-298) cases/year. Analysis of alternative scenarios using different assumptions for key model inputs showed that the predicted relative risk reductions are robust. This risk assessment provides a comprehensive approach for evaluating the public health impact of various interventions in a sprout production system.