Salmonella outbreaks in poultry are becoming increasingly commonplace and are a major concern for consumers. Battelle, known for tackling critical national security issues such as terrorism risk assessment for the Department of Homeland Security, has applied those same principles to protecting the chicken roasting in your oven for Sunday dinner.
"Chicken is one of the riskiest foods, pound for pound, in terms of contamination," said Battelle Senior Research Scientist Brian Hawkins.
A software modeling program used to chart responses to incidents ranging from biological and chemical attacks in public gatherings to the purposeful contamination of a water supply, has been modified for use in the poultry processing industry by Battelle.
PRIA, which stands for Probabilistic Risk Informed Analysis, is a software and modeling tool that allows food safety and defense professionals to proactively assess the effectiveness of mitigation strategies-before an event occurs. It improves on current methods-which mostly rely on loading data onto spreadsheets-and results in high quality assessments that are quicker, more mathematically robust, and better documented for regulatory purposes.
PRIA uses customized graphics and animations to run rapid simulations that take into account all the variables involved in the process from when the chicken is hatched to when it's covered in barbecue sauce headed for your mouth. It takes the process down to the granular level in order to help pinpoint areas of risk. For example, factory parameters are split out into defeathering, immersion and chilling while it also takes into account that a package of chicken breasts will sit in the grocery store for multiple days at varying temperatures.
While currently customized for the poultry processing industry, PRIA can be adapted to address other common contaminated foods such as those that occur in the leafy greens and beef industries. PRIA may be a convenient tool for food companies to align with future regulations calling for quantitative risk assessments, such as those anticipated in the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).