It’s unlikely that the mathematicians of ancient Greece could have imagined that 4,000 years later food industry professionals would be getting together in Athens to discuss bioinformatics as a key topic in microbial food safety management.
The IAFP European Food Safety Symposium is always a great opportunity for the food industry to exchange ideas and learn about the latest developments, research and techniques in food safety. This year it took place 11-13 May in the historic city of Athens, Greece.
The key workshop: ’In vitro, in vivo and in silico in predictive microbiology: how far should we go to ensure the robustness of the calculations used in MRA?’ addressed the use of predictive modeling in Microbial Risk Assessment (MRA), with one of the most critical steps being collection of accurate and robust data on microbial behaviors.
Other presentations focused on the power of ‘big data’ generated by whole genome sequencing including, ‘Beyond Whole Genome Sequencing: The Impacts of Omics Technologies on Microbial Food Safety Management’ and ‘Can Whole Genome Sequencing Guide and Inform Intra-species Virulence Rankings?’
With the introduction of the Food Safety Modernization Act in the US, the implications for global food manufacturers supplying the US, and training requirements on the new legislation, were also the subject of several presentations.
The use of rapid techniques such as Real-time PCR continued to be a hot topic of discussion. I presented a poster addressing some of the current challenges of rapid, accurate pathogen detection in the food industry:
‘Evaluation of the Thermo Scientific SureTect Real-Time PCR Assay Method for Detection of Cronobacter Species In Powdered Infant Formula’. Helen Rose, Katharine Evans, David Crabtree, Yee-Ling Gregg, Gavin Bingley, James Stringer, Jani Holopainen, Mikko Kauppinen
The performance of Thermo Scientific™ SureTect™ Cronobacter species PCR Assay workflow with 300 g powdered infant formula (PIF) samples outperformed the analysis of 10 g samples with the draft ISO reference method. The SureTect method correctly identified an additional 11% of probiotic PIF samples as positive compared to the draft ISO reference method after 16 hours enrichment, rising to 33% after 19 hours enrichment. The data shows that the alternative method (SureTect Assay workflow) was more accurate than the ISO reference method, even though the alternative method was tested at 300 g sample size, which can be considered significantly challenging due to lower target organism to background ratio.
Athens retains many of the ancient monuments which are landmarks of early western civilization such as the Parthenon, and the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of the Acropolis and the medieval Daphni Monastery, meaning there was much to explore both within and outside of the symposium.
If you were unable to attend IAFP, details of the presentations are available to download on the event website to explore at your leisure.
To learn more about SureTect Real-Time PCR System for pathogen detection, visit our food and beverage section or read about the microbiology of infant feeds in our previous blog article Protecting the Vulnerable: Microbiology of Infant Foods.