Research – Report of the Scientific Committee of the Spanish Agency for Food Safety and Nutrition (AESAN) on the prospection of biological ha-zards of interest in food safety in Spain (2)

AESAN

This report addresses the prospection of biological hazards for some types of food that may pose a risk to the population and that are not currently included in the official control programs in Spain.

It completes and updates the 2018 report by the Scientific Committee of the Spanish Agency for Food Safety and Nutrition (AESAN, 2018). A number of bacteria that are significant contributors to nosocomial infections due to the increase in the number of multi-resistant strains of Acinetobacter spp. ,Klebsiella pneumoniae and Pseudomonas aeruginosa are listed first.

It is also addressed the study of the prevalence and possible control of Bacillus cereus and Cronobacter spp. presence in cereal flours and others, the revision of Campylobacter jejuni and/or Campylobacter coli in meats other than poultry, as well as the study of Shigatoxin-producing Escherichia coli. These latter two biological agents are much better known from the food control perspective, although there are control measures for Campylobacter spp. in poultry meat and not in other types of meat such as beef or pork and in the case of E. coli, producers of Shiga toxins, the control of this particular type of pathogenic strains in food has not been specifically addressed either.

Finally, tick-borne viral encephalitis, which can be transmitted to humans through the consumption of raw milk or raw dairy products, has been indicated as a viral hazard. The prospective study shows the need to determine the prevalence of multi-resistant bacteria of Acinetobacter baumannii, K. pneumoniae and P. aeruginosa in foods in Spain, especially in ready-to-eat foods such as salads and fresh plant-based foods. This is especially important due to the lack of data on the prevalence of these bacteria in foods in Spain. However, food research is carried out in neighbouring countries.

It is also necessary to include C. jejuni and/or C. coli in the investigations of beef and pork, since the incidence of these foodborne pathogens in humans is not explained solely by the presence of these agents in poultry meat, being their presence in other animals for slaughter also evident. Similarly, outbreaks of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli have been reported in Spain over the last 25 years, which makes it advisable to control them in beef, raw milk and leafy vegetables.

With regard to Cronobacter spp. and B. cereus, the importance of these agents can be demonstrated given their survival in powdery materials such as flours of different origins, including cereals, although the reported outbreaks do not seem to indicate a high prevalence. As regards the only viral hazard mentioned, it should be noted that the wide dispersion of the ticks that can transmit this virus, together with the potential consumption of raw milk, makes it advisable to investigate it in raw milk products.

However, the study of the actual infective capacity of this virus is not easy to establish with simple analytical methods. With this last exception, research for controlling all these biological hazards in food is possible, with classical or advanced methodologies that are robust enough, available for each case.

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