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Microbiology targets food safety

As producers and retailers source materials around the world, ensuring the microbiological safety and quality of food supplies has become a global challenge. Lab M’s Simon Illingworth & Lisa Green look at some of the methods helping keep consumers safe.

Among its many roles, a food microbiology laboratory will typically be involved in tests ranging from environmental hygiene monitoring and water quality analysis through to determining shelf-life and minimising food spoilage. However, it is the ability to quickly identify a potential pathogen in raw materials and final products that attracts the greatest attention. The public health consequences and commercial damage that can result from any failure in this area ensure a real focus on the continuing development of more effective and faster techniques. As well as livestock, fresh fruits and vegetables can be the source of infection. Prepared salads and vegetables that are eaten raw can present a particular risk.

Recent years have seen the development of more reliable and rapid methods for the isolation, early detection, characterisation and enumeration of microorganisms. In food microbiology this translates as reducing the time to producing a total viable count and arriving quickly at a presumptive negative or positive result for pathogens.

To read the full article published in Laboratory News, September 2008 download the pdf below.

Article first published : 30/9/2009