While testing to detect contamination is an important aspect of food safety the prevention of contamination is the most important means of keeping food safe. Prevention is accomplished through the application of high standards of hygiene along with optimised processing and storage methods. Microbial pathogens that can occur in food such as Escherichia coli (E. coli), Salmonella, Clostridium botulinum, and Listeria (as well as many others) are important contaminants that create health risks for the public as well as substantial economic impacts on food producers and processors. The Transformational Food Safety team uses traditional microbiology combined with the latest advances in the “omic” technologies.
The omic technologies are a variety of molecular based technologies that are rapidly transforming the detection, preventions, tracking and treatment of foodborne pathogens and spoilage organisms. For example genomics characterises existing, new and emerging pathogens by combining next generation DNA sequencing with computational biology. This is useful in foodborne disease outbreak detection and to understand the mechanisms pathogens use to evade hygiene methods. Metagenomics is another omic technology that can characterise the diversity of microflora in your processing system and detect new risks. Hundreds or thousands of different organisms can be identified without the need to culture or enrich them in any way. Along with other omic technologies like transcriptomics, proteomics, and metabolomics vast amounts of information on the biology of pathogens can be leveraged to generate practical outcomes in the control of foodborne pathogens and spoilage organisms.