Estimating the probability of recontamination via the air using Monte Carlo simulations

E.D. van Asselt-den Aantrekker, R.R. Beumer, S.J.C. van Gerwen, M.H. Zwietering, M. van Schothorst, R.M. Boom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Recontamination of food products can cause foodborne illnesses or spoilage of foods. It is therefore useful to quantify this recontamination so that it can be incorporated in microbiological risk assessments (MRA). This paper describes a first attempt to quantify one of the recontamination routes: via the air. Data on the number of airborne microorganisms were collected from literature and industries. The settling velocities of different microorganisms were calculated for different products by combining the data on aerial concentrations with sedimentation counts assuming that settling is under the influence of gravity only. Air movement is not explicitly considered in this study. Statistical analyses were performed to clarify the effect of different products and seasons on the number of airborne microorganisms and the settling velocity. For both bacteria and moulds, three significantly different product categories with regard to the level of airborne organisms were identified. The statistical distribution in these categories was described by a lognormal distribution. The settling velocity did not depend on the product, the season of sampling or the type of microorganism, and had a geometrical mean value of 2.7 mm/s. The statistical distribution of the settling velocity was described by a lognormal distribution as well. The probability of recontamination via the air was estimated by the product of the number of bacteria in the air, the settling velocity, and the exposed area and time of the product. For three example products, the contamination level as a result of airborne recontamination was estimated using Monte Carlo simulations. What-if scenarios were used to exemplify determination of design criteria to control a specified contamination level. (C) 2003 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
JournalInternational Journal of Food Microbiology
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • quantitative risk-assessment
  • microbial food safety
  • plants
  • milk
  • contamination
  • aerosols
  • model
  • fluid


Dive into the research topics of 'Estimating the probability of recontamination via the air using Monte Carlo simulations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this