• 1 Universiti Putra Malaysia
  • 2 Ishikawa Prefectural University
  • 3 Kyoto University
Food Research, 2017;1(3):67-76.


Escherichia coli O157:H7 is a major food-borne pathogen that has resulted in numerous
outbreaks around the world. Widespread distribution of the organism in various ecological
niches impedes the control measures. This study aimed to detect and quantify E. coli O157:H7
in beef sold in wet markets and hypermarkets in Malaysia and to determine the risk of E. coli
O157:H7 infection linked to consumption of beef. The rfbO157 and flicH7 primers targeted on
somatic antigen (O157) and flagellar antigen (H7) respectively of E. coli O157:H7 was used for
the MPN-PCR method. A total of 99 beef samples were collected from local wet markets and
hypermarkets. The highest E. coli O157:H7 contamination rate was observed in beef samples
collected from wet markets (89.50%), whereas the contamination rate in hyper market A and B
were compratively low (35.35 and 20% respectively). However, the microbial load was highest
in the beef samples from hypermarket A (1100 MPN/g) while E. coli O157:H7 bacterial load
in beef samples from hypermarket B and wet market ranged from 3 to 93 MPN/g and 3 to 240
MPN/g, respectively. Using the Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment (QMRA) approach
the risk was estimated incorporating the findings of the prevalence study and predictions
based on home storage, cooking and consumption patterns. Three different exposure pathways
were investigated to estimate the risk associated with contaminated beef and Monte Carlo
simulation was used to determine the level of uncertainty. The developed model predicated that
consumption of contaminated beef can be accountable for 1.83E+06 E. coli O157:H7 cases per
year in Malaysia. The reliability of the model, data gaps and further research needs, is discussed.
Through continuous improvement Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment provides valuable
insight into controlling and prevention strategies.