France – ANSES – A partnership to better fight against bacteria in food processing workshops


The presence of Listeria and Salmonella bacteria in food processing workshops poses several problems: these bacteria that are pathogenic for humans are capable of persisting for a long time in the environment and of resisting treatment with biocidal products. The Actia Fastypers Joint Technological Unit (UMT) has just been created by the Ministry of Agriculture for five years, in order to work on these issues. It brings together research teams (Anses, Inrae) and agro-industrial technical institutes (Actalia – dairy sector and the Pork Institute (IFIP)).

Salmonella and Listeria are two bacteria of animal origin, responsible for illnesses in humans and transmitted by food. They can persist for several months in natural and agricultural environments, as well as in food processing workshops. In addition, some strains may be resistant to treatment with disinfection products. The work of the UMT Actia Fastypers aims on the one hand to understand the mechanisms by which these bacteria manage to adapt and persist in the external environment, including in agri-food workshops, and on the other hand to develop tools to characterize and detectthese persistent bacterial strains. This work will be carried out jointly in the pork sector and the milk sector.

Two ANSES teams involved

Two ANSES units will be involved in the UMT: the Salmonella and Listeria unit of the Food Safety Laboratory and the Antibiotics, Biocides, Residues and Resistance Unit of the Fougères Laboratory. The first will provide its expertise in the genomic characterization of strains, in order to identify which genotype is associated with the characteristics studied (resistance to heavy metals, persistence in the environment, virulence, etc.). The second will study the adaptation and resistance of bacteria to the biocidal cleaning products used. This work will be linked to the joint technological network Chlean, devoted to the hygiene of equipment in the food industry, in which the two laboratories are already involved.

Development of detection tools

The goal of the UMT is to develop tools that can be used routinely by producers and food manufacturers to identify the strains of bacteria present at the different stages of food production, from breeding to finished products. ” It’s about optimizing and simplifying the tools we have for research, to enable technical institutes to identify both the virulence and persistence capacity of strains simply by harvesting bacteria from surfaces. using sampling swabs. », explains Sophie Roussel, co-host of the UMT and scientist of the food safety laboratory. These analyzes aim toadapt the cleaning and disinfection process to the characteristics of the bacterial strains likely to be found in agro-industrial environments, for example by using the most effective disinfectant products against the bacteria present in these factories.

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