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Level 2 Food Safety Introduction Part 1

Posted by Andrew Libberton on January 12, 2012  |   No Comments »

We all want to be fit and healthy. However food, one of the key contributors to our health and wellbeing, can if not treated carefully result in serious illness, perninanet disability and often death. Someone dies, virtually every day in the UK from from food borne illnesses, whilst many more are made seriously ill. Food Safety has never been more important. Food can become dangerous to eat in a number of ways and some of the common ones are:

Dangerous bacteria may find their way onto ready to eat foods. High protein foods, which contain water and are stored at room temperature (warm) can provide a fertile breeding ground for such bacteria and allow them to multiply into millions in very short time periods (typically low number of hours). When consumed these, millions of  bacteria release poisonous chemicals (toxins) into the body which cause sickness and diarrhoea (other symptoms include stomach ache, nausea and fever). Often bacteria are present on which do need to multiply on the food to cause illness. In such cases the food does not need storage under warm conditions to cause illness as these bacteria are capable of growing and multiply to dangerous levels with our bodies. Not all bacteria are harmful – many are useful – e.g. bacteria are used to make yoghurt, cheese and they also help us to digest food.

Baacteria are part of a group of living organisms called microorganisms. Moulds are another type of microorganism and some moulds are capable of producing seroius illness such as organ damage and cancer. Dangerous moulds can be found in a variety of places eg on nuts (normally when they have been stored in damp conditions), bruised fruit (e.g. apples). Government checks on imported foods and proper storage are the key way of preventing illness from moulds.

Poisonous plants can cause food poisoning if they are incorrectly harvested as food or allowed to contaminate wholesome food (e.g. poisonous mushrooms).

Certain fish can also make people  ill e.g. shell fish can be poisonous if they have fed of human sewage or water containing tiny organisms (called diflagenates).

Yet another way of rendering food unsafe is by contaminating it with chemicals, e.g. by the excive use of pesticides or the use of non approved pesticides.

Certain metals can cause food to become poisonous, e.g. mercury, lead and copper. So care must be taken if using copper cooking utensils and lead water pipes should be avoided.

Sometimes foods which can be eaten safely at low levels can be dangerous if eaten at high levels e.g. salt and nutmeg.

So there is a wide range of things that can contaminate food and we need to do all we can to keep them safe. That is what the  level 2 Food Safety is all about.

Have you any interesting stories relating to how food has become contaminated – if so please send them to me or put them on the blog. If you need anymore information or want claification on any of the above please contact me on andrewlibberton@bactrol.co.uk

 

Can natural enemies of Listeria make your poultry safe?

Posted by Dr. Ben Libberton on January 6, 2012  |   No Comments »

Bacteriophage reproduce inside the Listeria cell before bursting out to produce hundreds more bacteriophage, capable of killing more Listeria cells

A recent study has shown that natural enemies of Listeria can be used to dramatically reduce the numbers of bacterial cells present on the surface of pre-cooked chicken – a very good thing I’m sure you’ll agree.

 

So what are these “natural enemies” and where do they come from?

Well the enemies in question are viruses of bacteria called bacteriophage (meaning bacteria eater). However, these bacteriaphage don’t actually eat bacteria. They trick the bacteria into taking the bacteriophage inside the cell, where it can then reproduce. Once the bacteriophage have significantly increased in numbers they burst and kill the bacterial cell, release hundreds of new bacterial enemies into the surroundings. Pretty good right? These bacteriophage are very specific to certain bacteria e.g. a Listeria bacteriophage can only infect Listeria (usually). They are also completely safe for humans to consume as they have no effect on human cells and are destroyed by stomach acids.

Where do they come from? Well bacteriophage are all around us and are usually isolated from the environment. Ironically however, these particular “Listeria killing” bacteriophage were actually isolated from sheep faeces! Who would have though that sheep faeces hold the key to Listeria free poultry.

The idea of using bacteriophage as a method of biocontrol has been around for a long time and has also been trialled in medicine. However, they have not been widely used as they are biological entities and the full effects of using them is not fully known.

Reference
B. Bigot, W.-J. Lee, L. McIntyre, T. Wilson, J.A. Hudson, C. Billington, J.A. Heinemann, Control of Listeria monocytogenes growth in a ready-to-eat poultry product using a bacteriophage, Food Microbiology, Volume 28, Issue 8, December 2011, Pages 1448-1452, ISSN 0740-0020, 10.1016/j.fm.2011.07.001.
(http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0740002011001572)
Keywords: Biocontrol; Listeria monocytogenes; Food

1st Class Cleaning Products won’t cost the earth

Posted by admin on March 22, 2011  |   Comments Off