Category Archives: Decontamination Microbial

Research – Comparing the effectiveness of Cinnamomum zeylanicum essential oil and two common household sanitizers to reduce lettuce microbiota and prevent Salmonella enterica recontamination

Wiley Online

Vegetable Bacteria Danger

The washing step is necessary to remove biological and physical hazards from minimally processed vegetables. Nevertheless, the risk of foodborne diseases could persist even after washing due to postsanitizing contamination, and little is known about the antimicrobial effect of residual sanitizers. This study was conducted to compare the effectiveness of sodium hypochlorite (SH), sodium bicarbonate, and Cinnamomum zeylanicum essential oil (CEO) as sanitizers on lettuce (8°C, 48 h). First, the effect of sanitizers in reducing total aerobic mesophilic and psychrotrophic bacteria, yeast and molds, lactic acid bacteria, and Enterobacteriaceae on lettuce was evaluated with some insights on lettuce quality attributes (pH, color, and sensory analysis). Then, the capability of the treatments in preventing postwashing Salmonella adhesion on lettuce surface was investigated. Commercial SH disinfectant (solution at 2%) and CEO (0.5%) reduced microbial contamination in lettuce, without affecting the overall acceptability after 48 h at 8°C. SH reduced postsanitizing Salmonella adhesion of about 2.7 Log colony forming unit (CFU)/g. The microbial reduction was confirmed by confocal laser scanning microscopy, which also evidenced Salmonella internalization within stomata. Interestingly, CEO as well reduced Salmonella adhesion but with lower efficacy (0.44–1.00 Log CFU/g reduction), while sodium bicarbonate (15 mg/ml) was not effective. In conclusion, SH and CEO seem to be effective sanitizing agents, capable of improving the microbiological profile of fresh produce. In addition, the residual sanitizers, that remain on lettuce after washing, play a role in reducing Salmonella adhesion.

Research – Keep food fresh with this bacteria-killing packaging

NTU Singapore

Hepatitis A kswfoodworld

A team of scientists from NTU Singapore and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, US, has developed a ‘smart’ food packaging material that is biodegradable, sustainable and kills microbes that are harmful to humans. It could also extend the shelf-life of fresh fruit by two to three days.

The natural food packaging is made from a type of corn protein called zein, starch and other naturally derived biopolymers, infused with a cocktail of natural antimicrobial compounds (see video at the link above). These include oil from thyme, a common herb used in cooking, and citric acid, which is commonly found in citrus fruits.

In lab experiments, when exposed to an increase in humidity or enzymes from harmful bacteria, the fibres in the packaging have been shown to release the natural antimicrobial compounds, killing common dangerous bacteria that contaminate food, such as E. coli and Listeria, as well as fungi.

The packaging is designed to release the necessary miniscule amounts of antimicrobial compounds only in response to the presence of additional humidity or bacteria. This ensures that the packaging can endure several exposures, and last for months.

As the compounds combat any bacteria that grow on the surface of the packaging as well as on the food product itself, it has the potential to be used for a large variety of products, including ready-to-eat foods, raw meat, fruits, and vegetables.

In an experiment, strawberries that were wrapped in the packaging stayed fresh for seven days before developing mould, compared to counterparts that were kept in mainstream fruit plastic boxes, which only stayed fresh for four days.

The invention is the result of the collaboration by scientists from the NTU-Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health Initiative for Sustainable Nanotechnology (NTU-Harvard SusNano), which brings together NTU and Harvard Chan School researchers to work on cutting edge applications in agriculture and food, with an emphasis on developing non-toxic and environmentally safe nanomaterials.

The development of this advanced food packaging material is part of the University’s efforts to promote sustainable food tech solutions, that is aligned with the NTU 2025 strategic plan, which aims to develop sustainable solutions to address some of humanity’s pressing grand challenges.

Research – Role of climate change in increased mycotoxin levels

All About Feed

Climate change is likely to be part of the reason for the increase in mycotoxin issues for the global animal feed business. And the trend is expected to continue and even accelerate over the next 5 years.

7 out of 10 analyses run last year found raw ingredients contaminated with mycotoxins, according to Cargill’s annual review. But reassuringly, just 35% of these reached performance risk thresholds, showing that positive analyses are not always concerning.

Last year’s study analysed more than 328,000 samples across more than 150 global feed plants, on-farm samplings and storage locations in 54 countries. The majority of these were corn (212,254), cereals (85,478), oilseeds (27,602) or others (3,632). It found 72% of analyses were contaminated with at least one mycotoxin showing that contamination is more likely than not across all ingredients.

Since mycotoxins are produced by moulds as a natural defence response to environmental factors, their occurrence is linked to climate conditions.

Research – Publisher’s Platform: The World’s Largest and Deadliest Listeria Outbreak is turning 4 in March

Food Safety News

In March of this year it will be 4 years since I boarded a flight from Seattle to Johannesburg (20 plus hour flight) to speak at a food safety conference just days after the South African health authorities announced that a Listeria outbreak had been linked to a product named polony manufactured by the largest food manufacturer in Africa.

I recall how similar it felt to the early days of the Jack-in-the-Box E. coli outbreak of 1993– how everyone seemed honestly shocked that such a tragedy could happen.

I have spent the last 4 years working (being 10 hours behind has required far too many late nights and early morning calls) with a cadre of amazing lawyers and more amazing staff moving forward in the first foodborne illness class action in Africa.  We have much to do to find justice to the more than 1,000 sickened and their families.  I am saddened by the pace of the litigation, but determined to take care of our class members – we have to work harder.

Canada – Absence of information necessary for the safe consumption of smoked salmon sold by the company To each his own beer


QUEBEC CITY, Jan. 25, 2022 /CNW Telbec/ – The Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation (MAPAQ), in collaboration with the company À each his beer, located at 1446, boulevard Bona-Dussault, in Saint-Marc- des-Carrières, warns the population not to consume the product indicated in the table below if it has not been kept in the freezer at all times since the time of purchase. Indeed, the product label does not include the information necessary for its safe consumption, namely the statement “Keep frozen until use” which is required.

Product name


Affected lot



Units sold until
January 25, 2022

The product that is the subject of this warning was offered for sale until January 25, 2022 inclusively, and only at the establishment designated above. It was packaged in a clear plastic bag and sold frozen. The product label includes, in addition to its name and list of ingredients, the address of the establishment.

The operator is voluntarily recalling the product. It has agreed with MAPAQ to issue this warning as a precautionary measure. Persons who have this product in their possession and have not kept it in the freezer at all times since the time of purchase are advised not to consume it. They must either return it to the establishment where they bought it or throw it away. Even if the affected product shows no signs of tampering or suspicious odors, consuming it may pose a health risk. It should be noted that no case of illness associated with the consumption of this food has been reported to MAPAQ to date.

Atlantic Salmon Pavé (CNW Group/Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food) 

Hazard Classification:  Class 1
Reference Number:  4477

Media relations
Direction des communications
Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries
and Food
Tel. : 418 380-2100, extension 3512

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Hong Kong – CFS urges public not to consume one kind of butter product from Australia with potential microbial contamination


Issue Date 25.1.2022
Source of Information The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment of Australia
Food Product One kind of butter product imported from Australia
Product Name and Description Product name: MG Brand Butter, Unsalted 25KG
Brand: MG
Place of origin: Australia
Net weight: 25 kilograms
Date of manufacture: April 21, 2021
Shelf life: Two years
Importer: Foodgears Industrial International Ltd
Reason For Issuing Alert
  • The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) received a notification from the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment of Australia that the above-mentioned product might have been microbiologically contaminated and is being recalled.
Action Taken by the Centre for Food Safety
  • l   According to the information provided by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment of Australia, the affected batch of the product has been imported into Hong Kong. Upon learning of the incident, the CFS immediately contacted the local importer concerned for follow-up.
  • A preliminary investigation found that the local importer, Foodgears Industrial International Ltd, had imported the affected batch of the product into Hong Kong. The importer concerned has initiated a recall according to the CFS’ instructions.
Advice to the Trade
  • Stop using or selling the product concerned immediately if they possess it.
Advice to Consumers
  • Not to consume the affected batch of the product if they have bought any.
Further Information The CFS press release

Enquiries about the recall can be made to the hotline at 3999 5706 during office hours.

Centre for Food Safety
Food and Environmental Hygiene Department

Research – Food Poisoning Treatment

Food Poisoning News

While the effects of food poisoning are usually not life-threatening, they can be very unpleasant and result in additional health conditions that require medical attention. Some patients may be at risk for more serious complications depending on their overall health condition and the type of bacteria or virus causing the illness.

Research – Preventing Food Poisoning

Food Poisoning News

Food poisoning is a common, yet potentially serious environmental health issue. The occurrence of food poisoning can be reduced by following some simple rules while preparing, cooking, and serving food.

The most common causes of food poisoning are bacteria, viruses, or parasites that are present in foods that are contaminated with human or animal feces or their toxins. Most of the food poisoning cases are due to the consumption of foods that have not been thoroughly cooked or properly stored.

All these micro-organisms that cause food poisoning can be killed if they are exposed to adequate heat for a sufficient time, as in cooking or pasteurization.

Research – Researchers discover way to disarm potentially deadly Listeria bacteria


University of Queensland researchers have unlocked a way of fighting Listeria infections, which can cause severe illness in pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems.

During the study, researchers discovered a way to block Listeria from making the proteins that allow bacteria to survive and multiply in immune cells.

UQ Diamantina Institute’s Professor Antje Blumenthal said using a small, drug-like inhibitor has improved their understanding of the Achilles heel of Listeria.

“Listeria is found in the soil and sometimes in raw foods. Once ingested it can hide from the immune system and multiply inside immune cells,” Professor Blumenthal said.

“Instead of killing the bacteria, the immune cells are used by the bacteria to multiply and are often killed by Listeria growing inside them.

“Our study showed the bacteria could be cleared with a small drug-like inhibitor that targets the ‘master regulator’ of the proteins that help Listeria grow in immune cells. The inhibitor helped the immune cells survive infection and kill the bacteria.”

Until now, studies into the ‘master regulator’ – which controls critical proteins that make Listeria virulent ­­– have mostly been based on engineered bacteria, or mutated versions of these proteins.

“By using a drug-like inhibitor, we were able to use molecular imaging and infections studies to better understand what happens to Listeria when the bacteria cannot effectively grow inside immune cells and hide from immune defence mechanisms,” Professor Blumenthal said.

“We hope that our discovery, together with recent research into the master proteins’ molecular structure and functions, could guide the development of inhibitors and new drugs to treat Listeria infection.”

Listeria infection does not cause disease in most people, but can be deadly for the immunocompromised and is also a major health concern during pregnancy and can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth.

“Our findings could also inform design of inhibitors against related proteins that are found in different bacteria,” Professor Blumenthal said.

The study has been published in the journal PLOS Pathogens (DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1010166).

This study, led by researchers at The UQ Diamantina Institute, included collaborations with Umeå University, Sweden; UQ School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences; Australian Infectious Diseases Research Centre; Institute for Molecular Bioscience; Mater Research Institute; Telethon Kids Institute, University of Western Australia; Monash University; University of Melbourne at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity and Hudson Institute of Medical Research.

Media: PRofessor Antji Blumenthal,; UQ Communications, Angie Trivisonno,, +61 (0)7 3365 5118, +61 (0)436 368 746.

Cambodia – Mass food poisoning reported with more than 30 falling ill

Khmer Times

A joyful party ended in a hospital visit for 34 guests due to food poisoning.

The party took place on January 21 at a water treatment plant in Snom Prampi Village, Mak Prang Commune, Teuk Chhou District, Kampot.

According to the authorities at around 6 p.m. there were reports of mass food poisoning. The party was reportedly hosted by the water treatment plant. After the report came to the authorities, those suffering were sent to the hospital to be treated. A total of 34 people ended up in the emergency room.

Authorities said that 26 of the victims were admitted to Kampot Provincial Referral Hospital and eight other people were sent to a private clinic for treatment. As of January 22, all victims have recovered.