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Probability of Escherichia coli contamination spread in ground beef production

1. School of Mathematical Sciences, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY 14623, USA
2. Department of Mathematics & Statistics, University of Guelph, Guelph ON N1G 2W1, Canada

Human illness due to contamination of food by pathogenic strains of Escherichia coli is a serious public health concern and can cause significant economic losses in the food industry. Recent outbreaks of such illness sourced from ground beef production motivates the work in this paper. Most ground beef is produced in large facilities where many carcasses are butchered and various pieces of them are ground together in sequential batches. Assuming that the source of contamination is a single carcass and that downstream from the production facility ground beef from a particular batch has been identified as contaminated by E. coli, the probability that previous and subsequent batches are also contaminated is modelled. This model may help the beef industry to identify the likelihood of contamination in other batches and potentially save money by not needing to cook or recall unaffected batches of ground beef.

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Keywords Escherichia coli; ground beef; contamination probability; probability model; beef recall

Citation: Petko M. Kitanov, Allan R. Willms. Probability of Escherichia coli contamination spread in ground beef production. Mathematical Biosciences and Engineering, 2018, 15(4): 1011-1032. doi: 10.3934/mbe.2018045

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