Food Safety and Microbiology

A whole supply chain hurdle approach to control Campylobacter. Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council & Innovate UK. 2016 to 2019.

The University of Lincoln School of Life Sciences and NCFM will rigorously study a novel holistic hurdle technology approach comprising a consecutive series of interventions, underpinned by the largest molecular study of Campylobacter in a supply chain conducted to date.

Campylobacter is responsible for 14% of all human diarrheal cases worldwide, with >280,000 food poisoning cases in the UK per year and c. 100 deaths. It costs the UK economy >£580m per year, much of this imposed on the NHS (Strachan et al 2010, Lancet, 376, 665-7). Given the social impacts, Campylobacter is a primary risk threatening the UK poultry industry. An industry that contributes £3.6bn GVA to the UK economy. Defeating Campylobacter is a clear industry and policy aim, any techniques which reduces the impact of this disease will underpin both the economic and social sustainability of the industry and food security of consumers.

University of Lincoln Schools and staff involved in research:

NCFM – Dr Agnieszka DudkiewiczDr Bukola OnarindeMark Swainson

LIAT - Prof Simon Pearson

School of Life Sciences – Prof Matthew GoddardDr Catrin Gunther

Development of a Quality Assurance CO2 Leak Detector for Modified Atmosphere Packaging. Innovate UK. 2014 to 2015.

Industrial lead Insignia Technologies Ltd working with the NCFM. Modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) is widely used throughout the food packaging industry. It involves replacing air within the pack with a CO2 rich/O2 deficient gas mixture which keeps the food fresher for longer by inhibiting spoilage by microorganisms. However, if an accidental leak is present in the packaging, the preservation mechanism is disrupted and food spoils quicker. The presence of a leak is not always obvious, or its significance realised by consumers.

This project developed a simple colour-changing label which quickly provides information about the integrity of food packaging. Such inexpensive indicators will serve to increase food safety, reduce waste and will vastly improve the quality assurance procedures currently used throughout the food packaging industry. The product has now been commercialised by Insignia Technologies Limited and has recently been applied to sliced cooked meat packs in the Sainsbury’s retail supply chain.

University of Lincoln staff involved in research:

NCFM – Mark Swainson

Reduction of Fats, Salts and Sugars and the Increase of Fibre in Premium Snacking Products. Innovate UK (“Optimising food composition: fat, sugar, salt and fibre” initiative). 2016 to 2019. 

Products in the savoury snacking market have a negative health perception typically being high in fat and salt and whilst it is possible to reduce fat and salt, this often leads to a compromise in flavour, texture and lack of consumer appeal in the premium snacking market.

The aim of the project is to develop a range of products that optimise nutritional composition and meet green traffic light guidelines without this compromise in taste and texture delivery and to increase fibre content whilst maintaining commercial viability and adhering to Kettle Foods clean label ingredient policy brand standards. With a green traffic light range of products, we hope to provide permissible snacking and avoid negative impact on the long term health of the nation, giving new market opportunities for both branded and private label growth.

University of Lincoln staff involved in research:

NCFM - Dr Bukola OnarindeMaureen LancasterDr Jin ChuKeith Brewood

Early detection and biocontrol of prevalent diseases of mushrooms and potatoes. Innovate UK (“Crop and livestock disease challenges” initiative). 2015 to 2018.

This project will address the challenges of early disease identification during crop growth and the management of these diseases without the use of chemical pesticides, particularly with the mushroom and potato industries. It aims to develop an electronic nose system capable of rapidly detecting prevalent mushroom and potato crop diseases, enabling the primary producer to make disease management decisions earlier in the crop production process. A biocontrol agent will also be developed that will control prevalent mushroom and potato (storage and tuber) diseases. This biocontrol agent will be tested to ensure that there will be no risk to consumer safety or the environment.

It is anticipated that this project will develop a long-needed alternative to the use of pesticides by the mushroom and potato industries, thereby ensuring their future sustainability. It will also provide an innovative platform example for future product development and risk assessment strategies.

University of Lincoln staff involved in research:

NCFM – Dr Bukola OnarindeDr William Hayes

Microbial Evaluation of Poultry and Pork Mechanically Separated Meat (MSM), Compared to Fresh Cuts of Meat, Meat Preparations and Minced Meat Products. Food Standards Agency. 2014 to 2017.

European Union legislation (Regulation (EC) No. 853/2004) describes two types of MSM Techniques that do not alter the structure of the bones produce a product known as 'Type 1 MSM', where the calcium content is not significantly higher than that of minced meat. All other processes produce a product known as 'Type 2 MSM'.

The overall purpose of this project is to provide data and scientific evidence to support the FSA’s assessment of whether current restrictions on the use of MSM from poultry and pork are appropriate and proportionate for the protection of public health. This project will expand on work already carried out for the FSA and will involve microbial data collection to identify the types and abundance of microbes present in Types 1 and 2 MSM.

University of Lincoln staff involved in research:

NCFM – Dr Bukola OnarindeDr Agnieszka Dudkiewicz

Rapid Detection of Microbial Infection in Livestock Rapid-MIL. (“Health & Life Sciences Round 1” initiative). 2017 to 2018.

Rapid detection and identification of microbial infection in livestock on the farm will enable stratified antimicrobial treatment to be given to assist in the production of healthy animals and in turn, meat products. The aim of the project is to produce a Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) analyser which, when coupled with rapid microbiology on selective agar plates, will give an unequivocal response and detect and identify the infectious agents in less than 8 hours - i.e. in a single working day. Lead Partner: Roboscientific

University of Lincoln staff involved in research:

NCFM – Dr Bukola OnarindeDr Agnieszka DudkiewiczDr William Hayes