Improving microbial food safety using innovative risk assessment methods.

Project: Research


Modern food production chains are evolving to very complex systems that provide greater opportunities for contamination, growth of pathogens and expression of virulence such as enterotoxin production. To produce safe food, data about food-borne pathogen virulence is required to complement knowledge about the bacterial survival in food. When food-borne pathogens are subjected to stressful environmental conditions, e.g. sub-optimal temperature, proteins involved in survival and virulence as a part of a general stress response are expressed. Thus, it is important to identify environmental factors which affect microbial virulence expression. This knowledge will progress quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA) and evaluation of hazards associated with expression of virulence in food. Staphylococcus aureus will be the model organism since the production of convenience food provides a niche for this enterotoxin-producing bacterium. In collaboration with Moorepark Food Research Centre, Ireland; Copenhagen University; Institute of Food Research, U.K.; Swedish Dairy Association and the Swedish Food Administration, this research will identify and study (1) enterotoxin expression in natural dairy-based food products such as cheese, (2) genetic regulation of enterotoxin expression in different environments such as sub-optimal conditions and (3) implement generated food-based data in quantitative microbial risk assessment.
Effective start/end date2012/01/012015/12/31