Working Paper

Identifying the Most Significant Microbiological Foodborne Hazards to Public Health: A New Risk Ranking Model

Sep 1, 2004 | Michael B. Batz, Sandra A. Hoffmann, Alan J. Krupnick, Glenn Morris, Diane M. Sherman, Michael R. Taylor, Jody S. Tick


In order to help facilitate a risk-based food safety system, we developed the Foodborne Illness Risk Ranking Model (FIRRM), a decisionmaking tool that quantifies and compares the relative burden to society of 28 foodborne pathogens. FIRRM estimates the annual number of cases, hospitalizations, and fatalities caused by each foodborne pathogen, subsequently estimates the economic costs and QALY losses of these illnesses, and, lastly, attributes these pathogen-specific illnesses and costs to categories of food vehicles, based on outbreak data and expert judgment. The model ranks pathogen-food combinations according to five measures of societal burden. FIRRM incorporates probabilistic uncertainty within a Monte Carlo simulation framework and produces confidence intervals and statistics for all outputs. Gaps in data, most importantly in regards to food attribution and the statistical uncertainty of incidence estimates, currently limit the utility of the model. Once we address these and other problems, however, FIRRM will be a robust and useful decisionmaking tool.