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U.K. research aims to predict Salmonella levels

Researchers in the U.K. are working on developing a tool that will predict Salmonella levels in pork at each stage of production


Norwich, U.K. – The Institute of Food Research is leading the development of a tool for modelling and predicting the growth of Salmonella in the pork supply chain.

Together with researchers from Italy and Greece, the team is looking to bring more certainty into the inference by breaking down the process systematically, to produce a model for how Salmonella growth can be affected at each production step.

Tracing the cause of bacterial contamination to a particular stage of the supply chain is difficult, say the researchers, because of uncertainty surrounding how the bacteria grow at the different stages and under different environmental conditions.

Temperature, pH and water activity fluctuate between different stages in processing of pork, and these conditions affect the growth and survival of Salmonella. Data on Salmonella growth in different conditions have been produced by numerous research groups around the world, and brought together in databases such as Combase.

What is Combase

The Combase database is a web-based collection of measurements describing how microbes respond to different environmental factors. Combase is a collaboration between IFR, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Research Service and Australia’s Food Safety Centre, and is a central, open-access repository for quantitative microbiological data.

The researchers found over 700 records in the Combase database describing the growth of Salmonella in a wide range of different conditions relevant to the pork supply chain.

Different models were then combined to give predictions on the concentrations of Salmonella at the different stages of the pork supply chain, under varying temperature, water activity and pH conditions. These predictions were validated in several pork products.

The models are available online via a user-friendly computing tool at  http://www.ifr.ac.uk/safety/SalmonellaPredictions/

This will allow users to enter their own conditions and get an estimate of the Salmonella concentrations at any stage of the process. It also allows a better understanding of which steps are most critical in the pork supply chain and assists the overall control of Salmonella and the production of safe food.