Anti-Campylobacter Biofilm Technologies, to improve safety and shelf life of poultry products (AC-BIT)

Lead Research Organisation: Quadram Institute Bioscience
Department Name: Gut Health and Food Safety

Abstract

This feasibility project will target biofilms formed by microbial pathogens in the meat supply chain, to prevent transmission in the human food chain. Our model will be biofilms of Campylobacter and Salmonella, two bacteria which are important causes of food poisoning present on chicken skin/meat, with plastics used in poultry packaging materials. A particular focus will be given to the possible inhibition and removal of such biofilms using food-grade enzymes and edible natural products (such as horseradish actives). The research will build-up on multi-disciplinary expertise in pathogen biofilm, poultry production, packaging production and natural product chemistry This will underpin future research on the design of antibiofilm products for the poultry packaging or cleaning product industry, which will be used in subsequent project for usage in MAP trays, soaker pads or sealing foils with poultry products. This work will have an impact on food poisoning in the UK, which represents a major challenge to the UK food industry. The cost to the UK economy of the ~1 million cases is estimated at £1.5 bn per annum, and poultry contaminated with Campylobacter is a major single cause of food poisoning in the UK, with a financial burden estimated to be £583 million.

Technical Summary

To prevent transmission in the human food chain, this feasibility project will target biofilms formed by microbial pathogens in the meat supply chain. Our model will be Campylobacter and Salmonella on chicken skin/meat, plastics used in poultry packaging materials. A particular focus will be given to the possible inhibition and removal of such biofilms using food-grade enzymes and edible natural products (such as horseradish actives). The research will build-up on multi-disciplinary expertise in pathogen biofilm, poultry production, packaging production and natural product chemistry. This will underpin future research on the design of anti-biofilm products for the poultry industry, which will be used in subsequent project for usage in meat packaging (such as MAP trays, soaker pads or sealing foils with poultry products). This work will have an impact on food poisoning in the UK, which represents a major challenge to the UK food industry. The cost to the UK economy of the ~1
million cases is estimated at £1.5 bn per annum, and poultry contaminated with Campylobacter is a major single cause of food poisoning in the UK, with a financial burden estimated to be £583 million.

Planned Impact

Who will benefit from this research?

Foodborne infections with Campylobacter and Salmonella are a major public health and economic burden in the UK. Reducing the levels of Campylobacter in the food chain is a top priority of the Joint UK Funders Strategy for Campylobacter formulated by BBSRC, Defra and FSA in 2009. Despite significant pressure on the agricultural/industrial sector, there is no decrease in prevalence of Campylobacter infections yet. Hence the beneficiaries from new intervention strategies combine all those that are affected by the Campylobacter problem: the industry (farmers, producers and retailers), regulators and the general public. These categories will also benefit from the Salmonella work proposed here.

How will they benefit from this research?

Interventions which reduce survival of Campylobacter and Salnmon meat or in the processing environment are predicted to reduce incidence of Campylobacter infections and as such directly benefit the beneficiaries. Biofilms are a well known vehicle and reservoir for foodborne pathogens in the processing environment, and thus a target for interventions that interfere with formation and presence of Campylobacter biofilms, which can be applied at an industrial level.

Our objectives to ensure that we will achieve the desired impact for our project are:
a) interact with government agencies (such as FSA) to assist the control of foodborne pathogens.
b) engage with media and public, by participate in public engagement and outreach programmes to contribute to the societal impact and importance of science.
c) to give the scientists involved in the project the best possible training in molecular microbiology, genomics, bioinformatics and appropriate transferable skills.
d) to make sure that information and tools generated are directly disseminated to scientists and food industry, to assist rapid application to support safer food.
e) protect and exploit intellectual property that is generated during the project for economic impact.

Publications

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