Research and Development at the centre for microbiology
Reduction of pathogens and spoilage organisms in food
Methods of reducing bacterial contamination and ensuring the safe production of foods are being evaluated and developed. In addition to the traditional ways of preserving foods, our focus is on the development of new natural ways of inhibiting bacteria, which do not affect the essential characteristics of the food and result in a high quality product.
New protective and starter cultures that take advantage of the specific favourable properties of certain microorganisms are also being developed for food applications. These include cultures with special antimicrobial properties that contribute naturally to extending product shelf life, particularly of fermented foods. In addition, bacteriophages are being deployed to enhance the safety of the food.
The growth potential of spoilage bacteria and / or pathogenic microorganisms in selected foods is being investigated utilising challenge tests, thus enabling us to evaluate and compare mechanisms to reduce the bacterial growth.
Bacteriophages are natural antagonists of bacteria. They can be used in some foodstuffs to selectively inactivate pathogenic bacteria, such as Salmonella enterica or Listeria monocytogenes, without changing the organoleptic properties of the food. In this manner, the use of bacteriophages can increase food safety.
New protective cultures, which capitalize on specific positive characteristics of microorganisms, are being developed for use in foodstuffs. These include cultures with special antimicrobial properties that contribute in a natural way to a longer shelf-life of foods, including fermented products.
Some safe microorganisms, in particular lactic acid bacteria, produce substances that can naturally provide added-value to foodstuffs. Currently beta-glucan production and the development of specific aroma components are being investigated with a view to incorporation in food products.
Detection of bacterial contamination
ISO certified methods are utilised for the detection of microorganisms. In addition, novel molecular biological methods enabling the rapid and specific detection of microorganisms are being developed.
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