Dispatches from Lab Innovations 2014

Campden BRI sets out ‘good, bad and ugly’ in microbiology

By Joseph James Whitworth contact

- Last updated on GMT

Dr Roy Betts of Campden BRI
Dr Roy Betts of Campden BRI

Related tags: Microbiology

Novel processing and reformulation can cause potential problems in terms of microbiological risk, according to Campden BRI.

Reducing or removing salt, sugar and fats which help to stop microorganism growth, can have benefits but the effect this has on the microbiological safety of products and what, if anything, to replace them with must be considered, said the training provider.

This was not such a problem for conglomerates that have the resources and knowledge but more so for local and independent companies, it said.

Dr Roy Betts, head of microbiology, made the comments during his presentation: “Microbiology – The good, the bad and the ugly’ and speaking to FoodQualityNews.com at Lab Innovations in Birmingham, UK afterwards.

His talk covered the good microbes found in cheese, bread, salami and other foods, the bad which are pathogens such as Listeria, E.coli and Salmonella and the ugly which included viruses such as Norovirus and Hepatitis A.

Betts said cross contamination, inadequate heating, shelf life issues and food storage temperatures were key issues for microbiology.

Pathogen trends

He said a lot of work was happening around Campylobacter, which remains a serious problem in the UK.

Salmonella has decreased massively in recent years but this was attributed to vaccination action in poultry flocks around Salmonella enteritidis, other strains of the pathogen have remained the same or risen. 

Trends around Listeria had also changed, from it affecting pregnant women to becoming a problem in the over 60’s, Betts said it was unclear why this was the case.

Viruses such as Norovirus and Hepatitis A are carried by food but do not grow, they are hard to detect but PCR is one technique used, said Betts.

Trade show partner

Lab Innovations, in its third year, focuses on laboratory technology and consumables, analytics and biotech equipment.

Campden BRI, an event partner, hosted a two day paid for conference, discussing product fraud and STEC.

The conference started with a seminar on the latest developments in food authentication, with respect to seafood, spirits, and plants.

The research firm warned of a skills gap in newly qualified and established microbiologists earlier this year based on member feedback

Day one featured case studies, including Professor Chris Elliot’s interim report into the government agencies’ handling of the horse meat scandal and setting up of a specialist food crime unit.

Day two will focus on ‘STEC and the enterics’, exploring how shiga toxin producing E. coli (STEC) has become a key area of concern since the outbreak of E. coli O104:H4 food poisoning in 2011.

Related topics: Food Safety & Quality

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