Part of Thermo Fisher Scientific
26 August 2003
UK EXPERTS SPEAK OF CURRENT FOOD SAFETY ISSUES AT OXOID SEMINAR DAY
Microbiologists from throughout the food and brewing industries gathered at the Ardencote Manor Hotel, Warwickshire, UK in June to hear a series of topical talks from keynote speakers, followed by a pre-dinner presentation ceremony for the 2002/2003 Oxoid Awards.
Chaired by Roy Betts of the Campden and Chorleywood Food Research Association (CCFRA), the seminar began with a presentation by Oxoid’s Laura Ward on polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technology in the food industry, the history of its development and what it can offer to Microbiology laboratories today.
"PCR is a science that offers the triple benefits of increased specificity, speed and sensitivity, allowing laboratories to find the proverbial ‘needle in a haystack’ in terms of pathogen detection", said Laura. "When you use a PCR system, the business advantages of rapid product release and decreased risk of product recall are complemented by a reduction in clean-down procedures. The self-contained format of a good PCR system also reduces method implementation costs."
Christina Oscroft, Principal Technical Officer in the Quality Management Services Department at CCFRA then gave an accreditor’s view of the validation of new laboratory methods in her capacity as manager of the Campden Laboratory Accreditation Scheme (CLAS). Setting out to dispel common misconceptions about the accreditation process, she stressed that it is not the accreditor’s role to define acceptance criteria for a new method. Instead, an accreditor will seek to verify the suitability of the method for its intended purpose and the laboratory’s ability to use the method to obtain accurate results.
After lunch, Melody Greenwood (Chairman of the AW/9 Committee of the British Standards Institution) addressed delegates on changes and developments in ISO methods affecting food microbiology laboratories. Explaining the background to the process of devising and publishing standards (both EN and ISO), she also highlighted recent changes which have been made to existing standards for all the most common food pathogens.
Peter McClure of Unilever’s Research and Development establishment, Colworth House, listed ten ‘new’ pathogens (including verocytotoxigenic E. coli (O157:H7, O45, O111, O128 and O118) and Vibrio vulnificus) whose emergence has been noted over the past 30 years. He also commented on pathogens such as Listeria monocytogenes and Campylobacter jejuni which have been around for longer, but have only recently been shown to be food-borne.
Alec Kyriakides, Head of Product Safety for Sainsbury’s, gave the day’s final presentation. Under the challenging heading of ‘Microbiological testing and criteria - what use are they anyway?’ he gave his views on the importance of first knowing what hazards should be looked for (which he described as ‘setting the target’) then ‘setting the limit’ to differentiate the acceptable result from the unacceptable. He went on to discuss the draft European regulations on the microbiological criteria of foodstuffs and how these may affect the food testing and safety criteria procedures required of food producers and retailers. Alec’s talk stressed that criteria and testing are only powerful tools if you look for the right hazards with an appropriate sampling plan, use validated methods & techniques and do something with the results.
To register your interest in next year’s event, please contact Jackie Anthony Tel: +44 (0)1256 694201, Fax: +44 (0) 1256 329728, Email: email@example.com.