Category Archives: Research

Research – Microbiological safety of aged meat

EFSA

Abstract

The impact of dry‐ageing of beef and wet‐ageing of beef, pork and lamb on microbiological hazards and spoilage bacteria was examined and current practices are described. As ‘standard fresh’ and wet‐aged meat use similar processes these were differentiated based on duration. In addition to a description of the different stages, data were collated on key parameters (time, temperature, pH and aw) using a literature survey and questionnaires. The microbiological hazards that may be present in all aged meats included Shiga toxin‐producing Escherichia coli (STEC), Salmonella spp., Staphylococcus aureus, Listeria monocytogenes, enterotoxigenic Yersinia spp., Campylobacter spp. and Clostridium spp. Moulds, such as Aspergillus spp. and Penicillium spp., may produce mycotoxins when conditions are favourable but may be prevented by ensuring a meat surface temperature of −0.5 to 3.0°C, with a relative humidity (RH) of 75–85% and an airflow of 0.2–0.5 m/s for up to 35 days. The main meat spoilage bacteria include Pseudomonas spp., Lactobacillus spp. Enterococcus spp., Weissella spp., Brochothrix spp., Leuconostoc spp., Lactobacillus spp., Shewanella spp. and Clostridium spp. Under current practices, the ageing of meat may have an impact on the load of microbiological hazards and spoilage bacteria as compared to standard fresh meat preparation. Ageing under defined and controlled conditions can achieve the same or lower loads of microbiological hazards and spoilage bacteria than the variable log10 increases predicted during standard fresh meat preparation. An approach was used to establish the conditions of time and temperature that would achieve similar or lower levels of L. monocytogenes and Yersinia enterocolitica (pork only) and lactic acid bacteria (representing spoilage bacteria) as compared to standard fresh meat. Finally, additional control activities were identified that would further assure the microbial safety of dry‐aged beef, based on recommended best practice and the outputs of the equivalence assessment.

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Research – Isolation of Listeria monocytogenes from poultry red mite (Dermanyssus gallinae) infesting a backyard chicken farm in Greece

Nature.com

The poultry red mite (PRM), Dermanyssus gallinae, is arguably the most harmful, ubiquitous haematophagous ectoparasite infesting egg-laying hens. PRM is a vector of various microorganisms, with some being important for food microbiology and public health. The present study aimed to investigate the presence of specific pathogens, including Escherichia coliSalmonella spp. and Listeria spp., carried by PRM infesting a chicken farm in Greece. Mites were caught using cardboard traps (Avivet), and 100 unwashed PRM were homogenized and used for microbiological cultures. Microbiological cultures were carried out on general and selective substrates to detect the above-mentioned bacteria. Specifically for Listeria spp., DNA was extracted from bacteria grown in Tryptone Soya Yeast Extract Agar using a commercial kit. The hly gene encoding the Listeriolysin O protein was amplified by PCR. Mites were identified as D. gallinae using morphological keys as well as by COI DNA barcoding. Microbiological cultures and PCR assays were positive for Listeria monocytogenes. No other bacteria were detected. The current study constitutes the first molecular isolation of L. monocytogenes from Dgallinae, confirming that PRM can carry this food-borne pathogen. PRM control measures and hygiene practices should be applied to minimize any possible contamination risk of poultry products with L. monocytogenes and safeguard public health.

Research – Countrywide multi-serotype outbreak of Salmonella Bovismorbificans ST142 and monophasic Salmonella Typhimurium ST34 associated with dried pork sausages in France, September to January 2021 

Eurosurveillance

 is a major cause of gastroenteritis, with 180 million cases globally per year (9% of all infectious gastroenteritis cases) and is responsible for almost half (41%) of the deaths associated to the diarrhoeal disease.  shows the highest rates of demonstrated association to food-borne infection, i.e. 52% for non-typhoidal salmonellosis [1]. In 2019, 87,923 confirmed cases of salmonellosis in humans were reported in Europe, with a European Union (EU) notification rate of 20.0 cases per 100,000 population;  caused 26.6% of all food-borne outbreaks [2]. In France,  remains the main cause of food-borne illness–associated hospitalisation and death [3,4].

Three serotypes are responsible for the majority of  infections in Europe: Enteritidis, Typhimurium and its monophasic variant (,4,[5],12:i:-), together representing 70.3% of the 79,300 confirmed human cases with a known serotype in 2019. After poultry, pork is the most frequent source for salmonellosis in Europe (31%), and it has become the most frequent source for  serotype Typhimurium and its monophasic variant ,4,[5],12:i:-. In France, pork is suspected to be responsible for half of the salmonellosis cases reported every year [2,5,6].

 serotype Bovismorbificans is a relatively frequent food-borne pathogen (57 cases/year in France from 2012–20, and it was the 13th most frequently isolated serotype among human-identified  infections in Europe in 2019 [2]. Serotype Bovismorbificans is often identified in association with consumption of contaminated vegetables [711]. However, it has also been recently involved in outbreaks linked to horse and pork meat in Australia and France [12,13].

Research -France publishes 2021 Campylobacter data

Food Safety News

Data from Campylobacter surveillance in 2021 confirmed trends seen in previous years, according to the most recent statistics published by Santé Publique France.

Findings are based on the National Reference Center (CNR) for Campylobacter and Helicobacter and mandatory declaration of outbreaks. Past data from 2020 showed Campylobacter infections were not impacted by public health measures taken because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Campylobacter has been increasing since 2013 when online data entry was introduced. Scientists said this could reflect an actual rise in infections or it may be because of other factors such as better detection methods.

Research -Monitoring the incidence and causes of disease potentially transmitted by food in Australia: Annual report of the OzFoodNet network, 2017

Health Au

Abstract

In 2017, 47,652 notifications of enteric diseases potentially related to food were received by state and territory health departments in Australia. Consistent with previous years, the majority of all notified infections were either campylobacteriosis (n = 28,432; 60%) or salmonellosis (n = 16,416; 34%). A total of 206 gastrointestinal outbreaks, including 179 foodborne outbreaks, were reported in 2017. The remaining 27 outbreaks were due to environmental or probable environmental transmission (22 outbreaks), animal-to person or probable animal-to-person transmission (three outbreaks), and waterborne or probable waterborne transmission (two outbreaks). Foodborne outbreaks affected 2,130 people resulting in at least 290 hospital admissions and five deaths. Eggs continue to be a source of Salmonella Typhimurium infection across the country, with 49 egg-related outbreaks affecting at least 746 people reported across six jurisdictions in 2017.

England – Differential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on laboratory reporting of Norovirus and Campylobacter in England: A modelling approach

PLOS One

CDC Campy

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted surveillance activities for multiple pathogens. Since March 2020, there was a decline in the number of reports of norovirus and Campylobacter recorded by England’s national laboratory surveillance system. The aim is to estimate and compare the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on norovirus and Campylobacter surveillance data in England.

Research -Quantitative microbiological risk assessment of traditional food of animal origin produced in short supply chains in Poland

EFSA

Abstract

Polish raw-milk cheeses produced in short supply chains may pose a threat to consumer safety due to pathogen presence. Listeria monocytogenes is a bacterium of great importance for the food safety of refrigerated RTE foods due to its ability to grow at refrigeration temperatures.

During the EU-FORA fellowship, a stochastic risk assessment was designed and executed to estimate the risk for consumers from L. monocytogenes in these products. The aim was to develop a probabilistic QMRA model that would incorporate the variability and uncertainty of the model’s inputs such as prevalence, initial concentration levels, product intrinsic factors, domestic storage temperature and consumer behaviour. The project involved data collection and analysis, growth model selection, mathematical modelling and Monte Carlo analysis in R programming language.

Microbiological and physicochemical testing were carried out throughout the year on two types of cheeses in combination with a domestic refrigerator temperature survey and accompanying consumption questionnaire. Collected data were fitted to probability distributions using R. The appropriate growth model for the pathogen was selected based on an inoculation study performed on one of the raw-milk cheeses and the chosen mathematical model was written into the R script developed for the QMRA. The dose–response model used the ingested dose calculated from the modelled concentration of L. monocytogenes at the time of consumption and the single serving size from the questionnaire to estimate the probability of illness. The final risk was expressed as probability of listeriosis for Polish consumers per serving of raw-milk cheese.

Research – EFSA – FOODSAFETY4EU: paving the way for the food safety system of the future

EFSA

Abstract

Food safety is a top priority for the European Commission, which policies aim at sustaining a high level of protection of human health and consumers’ interests, while ensuring an effective functioning of the internal EU market. Under the New Transparency Regulation (EU/2019/138), the 3-year EU-fundedFOODSAFETY4EUproject (FS4EU) kicked off in January 2021, represents a significant step for the European Union (EU) food safety system (FSS), towards more transparency, better engagement, and closer cooperation.

This Horizon 2020 Project, coordinated by CNR-ISPA (Italy), focuses on building a multi-stakeholder platform for the future EU FSS. The FOODSAFETY4EU Network currently consists of 23 consortium partners and around 50 stakeholders: Food Safety Authorities (FSA), consumer associations, academia, research centres and networks, food industries and sector associations, thinktanks, etc. Through a structured, digitally supported, participatory process, the platform hosts the co-design of future strategic research and innovation agenda (SRIA), as well as risk communication models tailored to the specificities of various target groups. Among the goals: providing scientific advice and technical support for EU food safety policies, by enabling actors to access, share and exchange scientific knowledge, resources, and data more efficiently, to better synchronise food safety research and policies, and to contribute to a more transparent communication through the FSS.

Overall, the FS4EU project underpins the EFSA missions in risk assessment, including risk communication, with the ambition to be a basis for a Knowledge Centre for Food Safety in Europe. Accordingly, the EU-FORA 2021–2022 fellow (based in CNR-ISPA under the Work Programme RECIPE: Risk AssEssment/Risk CommunIcation: understanding the context and addressing Priorities of the futurE–a learning-by-doing approach) committed to multiple Work Packages, actively participated to various activities, thus successfully contributing to the FS4EU project meeting its objectives by the end of 2023

Research – Microphone-equipped toilet will detect diseases and give you advice – What more can I say :)

Interesting Engineering

In order for patients to be treated for cholera, they must know that they have the disease first. However, it can be a sensitive and difficult task to monitor bowel diseases, such as cholera. Maia Gatlin, a research engineer at the Georgia Institute of Technology, created a way to use artificial intelligence to detect diarrhea. She calls her presentation The Feces Thesis: Using Machine Learning to Detect Diarrhea.

A noninvasive microphone sensor can detect disease in bowels

Gatlin will be presenting her thesis and the sensor tool today, Dec. 5, at the annual Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, explaining her findings on how machine learning can be used to detect diseases in the bowel. She uses a noninvasive microphone sensor to identify bowel diseases, without necessarily collecting identifiable information, meaning the AI can determine the infection without having to be examined in a medical facility to collect additional data.

Research – Treatment of Fresh Meat, Fish and Products Thereof with Cold Atmospheric Plasma to Inactivate Microbial Pathogens and Extend Shelf Life

MDPI

Abstract

Assuring the safety of muscle foods and seafood is based on prerequisites and specific measures targeted against defined hazards. This concept is augmented by ‘interventions’, which are chemical or physical treatments, not genuinely part of the production process, but rather implemented in the framework of a safety assurance system.
The present paper focuses on ‘Cold Atmospheric pressure Plasma’ (CAP) as an emerging non-thermal intervention for microbial decontamination. Over the past decade, a vast number of studies have explored the antimicrobial potential of different CAP systems against a plethora of different foodborne microorganisms.
This contribution aims at providing a comprehensive reference and appraisal of the latest literature in the area, with a specific focus on the use of CAP for the treatment of fresh meat, fish and associated products to inactivate microbial pathogens and extend shelf life. Aspects such as changes to organoleptic and nutritional value alongside other matrix effects are considered, so as to provide the reader with a clear insight into the advantages and disadvantages of CAP-based decontamination strategies.