Feasibility of a Food Safety Challenge Reference Collection
Helping members (and the wider food industry) prevent food spoilage is a research priority for the Centre.
NZFSSRC commissioned an ESR project to see if the microorganisms used currently for ‘challenge testing’ could form a national reference culture collection for use by the NZ food industry. It was conducted by Drs Jan Powell, Beverley Horn, and Joanne Kingsbury, and reviewed by Dr Rob Lake, ESR.
Food producers must find ways to control or remove microorganisms from the food production chain that can cause illness or food spoilage. Microbial challenge studies are used to validate control measures and to provide the scientific evidence to ensure that food is safe, and suitable for human consumption throughout its shelf-life.
Microorganisms can be eliminated, reduced or limited in their cell growth by intrinsic food properties such as pH or water activity, or by extrinsic mechanisms such as temperature or pressure. In designing a challenge study, a cocktail of strains of a microorganism should be chosen which are (i) representative of the likely strains the food is exposed to and (ii) the strains that are most resilient to the conditions the food will be exposed to.
To support small or new businesses to undertake challenge studies, access to the right microbial strains is vital. The study suggests that a culture collection that houses strains of microorganisms that are validated for specified intrinsic and extrinsic conditions would be a valuable national resource and scientifically possible to establish in NZ. Engagement with the food industry during the project suggests that the industry would use such a collection, if cost and privacy controls were appropriate.
If you, as an industry stakeholder want to learn more or get involved in the potential establishment of reference strain collection please contact the Centre firstname.lastname@example.org or Dr Powell at email@example.com