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Food and drink safety

Food and drink safety

Role of biofilms in Campylobacter transmissions through the food chain
Campden BRI Project 123483 (May 2011 - April 2015)
IFR BBSRC Case Studentship

Campylabacter jejuni is a thermophilic, microaerobic, spiral bacterium, which is the leading cause of foodborne gastroenteritis in the develop world. The UK has an annual incidence of 321,000 infections, costing more than £500 million. More than 80% of retail chicken caracses in the UK are contaminated, so investigation into survival of C. jejuni in the food chain is important. Biofilms are thought to conribute to survival, with bacterial shedding from the biofilm allowing cross-contamination of foodstuffs. To study the role of biofilms in food relevant conditions, a model system is being utilised, based on juice collected from chicken meat.

Contact: Dr. Roy Betts
+44(0)1386 842075
e-mail: roy.betts@campdenbri.co.uk


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Next generation techniques for microbiological and chemical food safety
Campden BRI Project 125505 (January 2012 - December 2014)
Member Subscription Funded

Significant advances in diagnostic techniques have provided higher throughput, more rapid results and greater sensitivity in both food microbiology and chemistry. This project will provide the opportunity to assess the use of these next generation technologies in supporting product quality and safety from both these perspectives. The experimental work will focus on six key areas: same-day microbial identification using Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption Ionisation-Time of Flight analysis; evaluation of portable analytical devices for 'on the spot' testing for pathogens and spoilage/indicator organisms; development of a microbial profiling protocol to assess changes in populations during spoilage and fermentation; allergen detection by liquid chromatography mass spectroscopy; migration modelling of packaging components in products during storage; and development of an analytical screen for legal inks and food dyes.

Contact: Dr. Suzanne Jordan
+44(0)1386 842013
e-mail: suzanne.jordan@campdenbri.co.uk


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Effective low aw food and environment decontamination technologies
Campden BRI Project 128882 (January 2013 - December 2015)
Member Subscription Funded

For many years, low moisture foods such as chocolate, seeds, nuts, cereals, spices or flour were regarded as microbiologically safe due to their inherent product characteristics. Due to the high heat resistance of microorganisms in low aw foods, there is growing concern for the potential presence and survival of Enterobacteriaceae (Salmonella, Escherichia coli, Cronobacter) through the decontamination steps and the processing environments used for these products. This is a significant problem within the food industry which can cause enormous losses to manufacturers and risks the health of consumers. This project will evaluate, validate and improve the decontamination technologies used for low aw foods whilst building on the information derived from the current MSFR project on Salmonella. Critical control points, operational prerequisites and Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) will also be considered.

Contact: Dr. John Holah
+44(0)1386 842041
e-mail: john.holah@campdenbri.co.uk


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Investigation of the efficacy, practicality and cost effectiveness of modified atmosphere packaging on Campylobacter numbers on raw chicken intended for retail
Campden BRI Project 129567 (February 2013 - March 2015)
FSA Funded

This project will provide rigorous evidence of the efficacy, practicality and costs of modified atmosphere packaging formats currently being used and will identify an optimum gas mix based on trials. The optimum will be based on the effectiveness of the gas mixes for reducing the numbers of Campylobacter, and the effects on aerobic plate counts, numbers of Pseudomonas, and the drip, colour, rancidity and odour. The gas mixes will include combinations of one or more of the gases O2, CO2, and N2.

To achieve this goal, the project has four main parts: (a) assess the effects of gas mixes that are currently used commercially, (b) identify improved gas mixes that lead to a more rapid reduction in Campylobacter and also measure the effects on the other factors, (c) full scale commercial trial of the improved mix including the chain from slaughterhouse to retail, and (d) measure the effects of overwrapping versus sealed packs on Campylobacter counts, compare aerobic plate counts after 20 or 30°C incubation, and measure in-pack gas:meat ratios and variations in Campylobacter counts around carcass surfaces (top vs bottom).

The project consortium includes researchers, a gas supplier, a packaging machinery manufacturer, two poultry processors, and two retailers.

Contact: Dr. Dean Burfoot
+44(0)1386 842052
e-mail: dean.burfoot@campdenbri.co.uk


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Continuous flow heat treatment of low water activity products: addressing an emerging food safety issue
Campden BRI Project 130401 (September 2013 - March 2016)
PhD Studentship

This project in cooperation with the University of Birmingham aims to characterize the operational variability of a continuous flow heat process for low water activity products. This will enable the selection of suitable process parameters with a view to schedule thermal processes for the modification of product functional properties as well as to support the validation of pasteurisation processes. Products of interest include flour, nuts and seeds.

Contact: Dr. Craig Leadley
+44(0)1386 842059
e-mail: craig.leadley@campdenbri.co.uk


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Mung bean disinfection using cold atmospheric plasma - a feasibility study
Campden BRI Project 131202 (August 2013 - April 2014)
FSA funded

The consumption of raw sprouted seeds and beans has led to a large number of food poisoning outbreaks in many different countries. Outbreaks can occur on an international scale with contaminated seeds from one country being distributed to many different countries for sprouting. Considerable research has focused on new decontamination methods for pathogens on seeds for sprouting. Whilst some of these techniques have shown promise for microbial decontamination, they have proved to be highly variable in their efficacy. The treatment of seeds for sprouting requires a careful balance between decontaminating the pathogenic species whilst not affecting the germination of the seed. Washing with water or chemicals, such as chlorine, are treatments that have been investigated with limited consistency. This project will investigate cold atmospheric plasma, a technique to generate an abundance of highly reactive oxygen species for the disinfection of Salmonella species on mung beans. Plasma impacts on seed germination as well as quality parameters (colour and texture) of sprouted seeds will be investigated using conditions that demonstrate effective disinfection.

Contact: Dr. Danny Bayliss
+44(0)1386 842130
e-mail: danny.bayliss@campdenbri.co.uk


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Intelligent process and product design using new predictive tools
Campden BRI Project 131998 (January 2014 - December 2016)
Member subscription funded

The food industry faces the combined challenge of extending product shelf life whilst reducing the preservation factors that control pathogens and spoilage organisms. One potential approach to achieve these goals is to develop products that use a combination of control factors. Product shelf life and stability are often evaluated using microbial predictive models, which give an indication of the impact of preservation factors and process measures on microbial survival. However, these models have a number of limitations: overestimating the potential effects of reformulation; the number and combinations of preservation factors that can be included in a single search; and the need for microbial growth to predict survival and potential for growth. The project will explore the use of molecular markers as novel tools that have the potential ability to enhance the prediction process using a holistic approach which is capable of evaluating multiple factors simultaneously. These unique tools will enable industry to determine the potential lethality of production processes and product composition, in an efficient and unbiased way.

Contact: Dr. Suzanne Jordan
+44(0)1386 842013
e-mail: suzanne.jordan@campdenbri.co.uk


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Food allergens - providing guidance for compliance and resolving analytical challenges
Campden BRI Project 131999 (January 2014 - December 2016)
Member subscription funded

The publication of food allergen reference doses and the resultant ability to calculate action levels to aid decisions on the need to apply precautionary ("may contain") labelling to food products is an eagerly anticipated development in food allergen management. Although guidance states that food businesses should not rely solely on results of allergen testing to make this decision, analysis remains an integral part of allergen management. It is important therefore that food businesses have confidence in the results of allergen tests. This project will provide information to engender confidence in analytical results to aid with decisions based on food allergen action levels. In addition, in 2014 the food information regulation will supersede current allergen labelling legislation. One of the fundamental changes is the introduction of the requirement to provide information on the allergen content of foods sold loose and in catering situations. This project will also support catering establishments by providing guidance and training on management of food allergens.

Contact: Dr. Helen Arrowsmith
+44(0)1386 842240
e-mail: helen.arrowsmith@campdenbri.co.uk


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Control of viruses in food production
Campden BRI Project 134930 (January 2015 - December 2017)
Member subscription funded

Virus related foodborne illness is becoming a major issue, as highlighted by the recent outbreak of hepatitis A (Hep A) in Italy and in the United States. Epidemiological data shows that norovirus (NoV) is a large cause of infectious intestinal disease throughout the world. Over the last 10 years there has been a significant increase in the number of reported cases in England and Wales, with nearly 11,000 recorded in 2012. The route of NoV infection is known to be through either person-to-person spread or the consumption of contaminated food, although the percentage contribution of these two vectors in outbreaks is not always proven. Evidence has shown, however, that large outbreaks of NoV have occurred due to contaminated foods (e.g. raspberries, strawberries). The control of food borne viruses is a growing area of concern for the industry, and at present there is limited information available of direct relevance to foods. Of particular importance is the understanding of the survival and persistence of food borne viruses on foods and in the environment, as well as the assessment/validation of antimicrobial treatments.

Contact: Dr. Suzanne Jordan
+44(0)1386 842013
e-mail: suzanne.jordan@campdenbri.co.uk


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Next generation techniques for microbiological and chemical food safety
Campden BRI Project 134931 (January 2015 - December 2017)
Member subscription funded

Over recent years there have been significant advances in analytical techniques to provide rapid results, greater sensitivity and the detection of emerging food safety risks. This project will provide the opportunity to assess the use of these next generation technologies to assist in ensuring product quality and safety from a chemical and microbiological perspective. The inbuilt flexibility within the project will allow the provision of timely responses to emerging issues that may occur during the 3 year period. This would allow the multidisciplinary team to collate and disseminate important information as well as developing and validating new methods where necessary. Previous projects in this field have enabled the introduction of additional services to our analytical portfolio, including detection of STEC in sprouted seeds, detection of food borne viruses, and improved taint analysis.

Contact: Dr. Suzanne Jordan
+44(0)1386 842013
e-mail: suzanne.jordan@campdenbri.co.uk


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Modelling ways to prevent attachment of enteric pathogens to fresh salad produce
Campden BRI Project tbc (October 2014 - September 2017)
BBSRC Studentship

Leafy green and other salad vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet, providing vitamins, minerals, and dietary fibre. Ready-to-eat prepared salads are particularly popular and so are of significant economic importance. The food industry employs a range of controls to provide safe salad products on the supermarket shelves. This includes processes to remove or kill food poisoning organisms such as Salmonella on salad leaves. Recent advances in technology now provide an opportunity to study how these systems work in much more detail. This i-CASE Studentship will investigate novel methods of preventing food poisoning pathogens from attaching to the surface of salad leaves. It will lead to a better understanding of the interaction between food-borne pathogens and chemicals released from salad produce, and the resident flora on the plant's surface. Model findings will be evaluated using industrial-scale salad processing and washing systems at Campden BRI.

Contact: Dr. Suzanne Jordan
+44(0)1386 842013
e-mail: suzanne.jordan@campdenbri.co.uk