Microbiological Food Safety

Microbiological Food Safety

Providing science-based guidance on microbial issues for more efficient food safety systems

Task Force Information

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Task Force Information

Objectives

The Task Force aims at facilitating the development of harmonised, science-based approaches to predict and prevent risks. Those approaches may serve as decision-making support for regulators and food industry. Reviewing the existing knowledge on current and (re-)emerging pathogen behaviour and ecology is also key.

The Task Force will also try to answer the reason why the pathogens persist by detecting and typing methods, as well as reviewing potential control options available.

Task Force Members

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* Scientific Advisors

Contact Information

For more detailed information, please contact Konrad Korzeniowski at kkorzeniowski@ilsieurope.be

Activity Overview

Ongoing

- Microbiological risk-based decision tool for use of dried spices and herbs, dried vegetables, and dried fruits in foods

Expert group on Microbiological risk-based decision tool for use of dried spices and herbs, dried vegetables, and dried fruits in foods. The objective is to identify the microbiological hazards associated with dried spices, herbs, vegetables, and fruits. Provide a review of the current state of knowledge regarding the incidence and prevalence of foodborne pathogens in dried spices, vegetables, and fruits and how they get contaminated.

In the pipeline

- Microbiological Safety in Food Product Design

The aim is to describe (1) the critical factors needed to ensure that microbiologically safe products are developed and (2) the common pitfalls that can occur during product development. The resultingbpublication will establish clear guardrails and actionsb for microbiologically safe product development ofready-to-eat and non-ready-to-eat foods.

- How pooling can improve sampling calculations and, consequently, risk management?

This activity will detail the advantages and disadvantages, as well as consequences in terms of results, of different pooling approaches to optimise sampling strategies for routine tests during food production and on finished products.

Expert Groups

Microbiological risk-based decision tool for use of dried spices and herbs, dried vegetables, and dried fruits in foods

Background and Objectives

Expert group on Microbiological risk-based decision tool for use of dried spices and herbs, dried vegetables, and dried fruits in foods. The objective is to identify the microbiological hazards associated with dried spices, herbs, vegetables, and fruits. Provide a review of the current state of knowledge regarding the incidence and prevalence of foodborne pathogens in dried spices, vegetables, and fruits and how they get contaminated.

Output

This activity will result in a developing a practical risk-based decision tool for the use of dried spices, herbs, vegetables, and fruits for food safety and research & development professionals, including food industry examples.

Expert Group Members

 

WP DataTables

Publications

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Microbiological Food Safety Task Force

FOOD RELATED CONTAMINANTS

Prevalence of pathogens of concerns for Low Moisture Foods (LMF) is considered through investigation of the reported foodborne outbreaks.

A Processing Environment Monitory programme (PEM) needs to be in place in order to identify points which need to be routinely sampled, search for harbourage niches, and detect and destroy pathogens of concern. These programmes need to be specifically designed considering the specific pathogens and production set up.

However, a monitoring programme on its own is not sufficient and needs to be accompanied by corrective and preventive action plans to ensure efficient application of the Good Hygiene Practices.

A tool for both food producers and regulators

This guidance document is intended to help set up targeted processing environment monitoring programs depending on their purpose, and therefore provide the essential elements needed to improve food safety.

Several food pathogens are of significant concern when planning monitoring programmes for LMF, and are discussed in this document:

  • Salmonella,
  • Cronobacter spp. (posing risk to infants),
  • pathogenic E. coli,
  • B cereus
  • Listeria monocytogenes.
Table 2 from Processing Environment Monitoring in Low Moisture Food Production Facilities. Are we looking for the right microorganisms?

Overview of recalls, withdrawals and safety alerts with microbial pathogens in the EU and US in 2012-2017. EU data were extracted from RASFF (2020) and US data were extracted from FDA (2020).

There is a great interest in the food industry to perform validations in a manner that would be accepted by all parties involved, for example, authorities and customers.

Low moisture foods are foods that:

  • are naturally very low in moisture,
  • have had water removed from them,
  • have a higher moisture content, but that contain agents that prevent the moisture from being available to microorganisms to allow their growth.

In this work, the "production environment" includes production equipment, production surfaces, floors/walls/ceilings, and the air within the production area.

Link to download the full-text

Scientific abstract Expand

Processing environment monitoring is gaining increasing importance in the context of food safety management plans/HACCP programs, since past outbreaks have shown the relevance of the environment as contamination pathway, therefore requiring to ensure the safety of products. However, there are still many open questions and a lack of clarity on how to set up a meaningful program, which would provide early warnings of potential product contamination. Therefore, the current paper aims to summarize and evaluate existing scientific information on outbreaks, relevant pathogens in low moisture foods, and knowledge on indicators, including their contribution to a "clean" environment capable of limiting the spread of pathogens in dry production environments. This paper also outlines the essential elements of a processing environment monitoring program thereby supporting the design and implementation of better programs focusing on the relevant microorganisms. This guidance document is intended to help industry and regulators focus and set up targeted processing environment monitoring programs depending on their purpose, and therefore provide the essential elements needed to improve food safety.

Keywords Expand

critical control points, pathogen, preventive control, recontamination, Bacillus cereus, Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella spp., Cronobacter spp., Enterobacteriaceae, dry foods, food safety, processing, environment Monitoring

Low Moisture Foods are defined as having a water activity of 1 or below. In the EU and USA there were 498 combined alerts for microbial pathogens and LMF. Between 2010 and 2017, EFSA reported 10 salmonellosis outbreaks from LMF alone.

Genetic characterization of isolates provides interesting insights for understanding the difference between resident and sporadic strains in a processing environment.

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Multimedia

Introductory video:

One-Pager

Completed Expert Groups