Capability and Resources

Scientific expertise:

Extensive experience with foodborne hazards

  • Bacterial: Salmonella, E. coli, Campylobacter, Listeria, Cronobacter sakazakii, Staphylococcus, enterococci, pathogenic Clostridium spp., Bacillus and other sporeformers)
  • Fungal associated hazards: particularly Aspergillus, Penicillium and Fusarium spp.

Applied and processing microbiology

  • Microbial response to instrinsic and extrinsic processing hurdles, including challenge testing (pathogens and spoilage)
  • Validation of traditional and innovative processes: Thermal (pasteurisation, UHT, retort), high pressure (thermal) processing, pulsed electric field, ultrasonics, cool plasma, ultraviolet, hurdle technologies
  • Food spoilage investigations (including factory visits) and shelf-life studies
  • Persistence in food processing and production environments
  • Sanitiser efficacy assessments
  • Qualitative risk assessment/profiling, hazard analysis and risk management
  • Development of food safety and HACCP plans
  • Advice for policy development

Advanced microbial genomics

  • Microbial genome sequencing, assembly, annotation
  • Functional genomics, transcript analysis, gene cloning, bioinformatics, metagenomics
  • Virulence assessment of pathogens
  • Foundational genetic knowledge of microbial hazards informing control and mitigation strategies

Microbial physiology and characterisation

  • Cell surface, metabolism and stress response characterisation
  • Flow cytometric analysis
  • Confocal, epifluorescence and light microscopy

Microbial ecology and epidemiology

  • Characterisation of hazards in food production and processing environments, biofilms, microbial pathogen genotyping, differentiation of microbial populations, source tracking (identification of contamination sources)
  • Antimicrobial resistance in bacteria in animals and food (detection, transfer and mechanisms of antimicrobial resistance)
  • Bacteriophages (ecology, transmission, influence on virulence)

Knowledge transfer activities

  • Industry workshops in food safety and applied food microbiology
  • Participation in food safety research forums
  • Publishing activities

Key infrastructure:

  • Expertise and laboratories in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney
  • Physical containment level 2 (PC2) laboratories specialising in high risk pathogen research (e.g. pathogenic E. coliSalmonellaClostridiumListeria)
  • Department of Agriculture Quarantine Approved laboratories for research associated with and/or using imported foods and ingredients
  • Food-grade pilot plant facilities in Brisbane and Melbourne, with access to pilot and commercial-scale high pressure (thermal) processing equipment; ideal for commercial-scale shelf-life testing
  • Special containment processing facility in Melbourne for pathogen challenge testing using high pressure (thermal) processing, pulsed electric field, UHT/HTST, and other innovative processing technologies