Criteria for selection of surrogates used to study the sate and control of pathogens in the environment

Ryan G. Sinclair, Joan B. Rose, Syed A. Hashsham, Charles P. Gerba, Charles N. Haase

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

123 Scopus citations


This article defines the term surrogate as an organism, particle, or substance used to study the fate of a pathogen in a specific environment. Pathogenic organisms, nonpathogenic organisms, and innocuous particles have been used as surrogates for a variety of purposes, including studies on survival and transport as well as for method development and "indicators" of certain conditions. This article deasvelops a qualitative surrogate attribute prioritization process and allows investigators to select a surrogate by systematically detailing the experimental process and prioritizing attributes. The results are described through the use of case studies of various laboratories that have used this process. This article also discusses the history of surrogate and microbial indicator use and outlines the method by which surrogates can be used when conducting a quantitative microbial risk assessment. The ultimate goal of selecting a sufficiently representative surrogate is to improve public health through a health-based risk assessment framework. Under- or overestimating the resistance, inactivation, or movement may negatively impact risk assessments that, in turn, will impact health assessments and estimated safety levels. Reducing uncertainty in a risk assessment is one of the objectives of using surrogates and the ultimate motive for any experiment investigating potential exposure of a pathogen.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1969-1977
Number of pages9
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Biotechnology
  • Ecology


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