Thursday, 21 March 2013

Food safety and microbiology


There is an interesting interview with Mike Peck from the Institute of Food Research in Laboratory News. In the interview Mike Peck discusses food safety and touches upon microbiological aspects.

Here is an extract:

“The Institute of Food Research (IFR) has an outstanding record in delivery of research outputs that support national and international industry and regulation. Research at IFR on microbiological food safety is focused on understanding how three major foodborne bacterial pathogens of the greatest concern to the UK (Salmonella, Campylobacter and Clostridium botulinum) survive and grow in the food chain. Salmonella and Campylobacter are both enteric zoonotic pathogens that cause infection, and are a major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. C. botulinum is a highly dangerous spore-forming bacterium that is responsible for botulism, a severe and deadly disease.

In part due to its ability to thrive and quickly adapt to the different environments in which it can grow, Salmonella remains a serious cause of food poisoning in the UK and throughout the EU. New research involving a team of IFR scientists has taken the first detailed look at the molecular mechanisms employed by Salmonella that enables their survival and growth in the food chain. Importantly we have determined how Salmonella adapts when it enters a new environment, which could provide clues to finding new ways of reducing transmission through the food chain, and thus preventing human illness.

Bacteria can multiply rapidly, potentially doubling every 20 minutes in ideal conditions. However, this exponential growth phase is preceded by a period known as lag phase, where no increase in cell number is seen. Lag phase was first described in the 19th Century, and was assumed to be needed by bacteria to prepare to exploit new environmental conditions. Beyond this, surprisingly little was known about lag phase, other than that bacteria are metabolically active in this period. But exactly what are bacteria doing physiologically during this period?”

To read the full article, go to Laboratory News.

Posted by Tim Sandle