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Research cooperation in assessment of microbiological hazard and risk in the food chain

Final Report Summary - MICRORISK (Research cooperation in assessment of microbiological hazard and risk in the food chain)

The MICRORISK project (Research cooperation in assessment of microbiological hazard and risk in the food chain) was funded by the European Commission under the FP7-PEOPLE-2012-IRSES call within the International Research Staff Exchange Scheme of Marie Curie Action and realized during years 2014 – 2015. The main aim of the project was to establish a co-operation between the European Union (EU) and the thirds states in area important from the public health point of view. The following organizations have been engaged in the activity: National Veterinary Research Institute (NVRI) in Pulawy, Poland (coordinator), French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES) in Maisons Alfort, France, National Scientific Center “Institute of Experimental and Clinical Veterinary Medicine” (NSC ”IECVM”), Kharkov and State Scientific and Research Institute of Laboratory Diagnostics and Veterinary and Sanitary Expertise (SSRILDVSE) Kijev, Ukraine. The MICRORISK provided the Ukrainian competent authorities the knowledge about the general principles of food law of the EU and to implement it into the official food safety control process in Ukraine. The beneficiaries had the opportunity to get know the Ukrainian food law for a better cooperation between the EU and outside the EU countries and for future harmonization of food law. Furthermore, the assessment of microbiological hazard and risk in the food chain in the EU and outside the EU countries will allow to improve public safety in this area. The project has achieved its goals by the following steps: (1) Analysis of the current food law at the food production chain existing in Ukraine and a possible implementation of the existing EU food law into Ukrainian microbiological food control (2) Analysis of the current methods using for examination hazard agents in food production chain existing in Ukraine and a possible implementation of the equivalent EU methods into Ukrainian microbiological food control chain (3) Analysis of the prevalence of important microbiological hazard agents at the primary production and processing stages in Ukraine based on the existing microbiological data collection and their comparison them with the EU data; (4) Introduction of principles and practical aspects of risk assessment in food chain in Ukraine.
The results of the project showed that Ukraine used microbiological criteria in accordance with Commission Regulation (EC) No 2073/2005 of 15 November 2005 on microbiological criteria for foodstuffs. Compliance concerns both the criteria applicable at the stage of food safety (retail trade), as well as evaluation criteria and process hygiene in food production (food production and processing). In this case, the Ukrainian legislation also provides application of the criteria that do not have counterparts in the food law of the European Union, and based on the provisions of Ukrainian law. Partial coherence of the Ukrainian and EU legal requirements in terms of microbiological criteria for food and feed concerns microbiological parameters such as total plate count, coliforms, coagulase-positive Staphylococcus spp., including S. aureus.
Analysis of laboratory methods used for microbiological hazards control in food production chain has shown that most methods used in the UE are well-known by Ukrainian partners and many of them are routinely applied as the only standard in the laboratory practice or simultaneously used with Ukrainian method. The changes would be needed for detection of Vibrio parahaemolyticus, Clostridium botulinum and botulinum toxins methods, where only Ukrainian test procedures are still applied. The area without any legislation, where the EU regulation and analytical methods should be implemented is the area of Shiga toxin producing E. coli, including E. coli O157 detection and staphylococal enterotoxin detection. Furthemore,the examination of samples from food production chain using methods implemented in the UE by Ukrainian researches revealed their exeperience and high practical skills in this area.
During the project progress the analysis of the existing Ukrainian and the UE data concerning the distribution of the most important food-borne pathogens on different stages of food production chain was performed. Particularly, prevalence of Salmonella spp., Campylobacter spp., L. monocytogenes as well as Clostridia were examined. The analysis showed that poultry meat still appears to be the most important food-borne source of Campylobacter and Salmonella in the UE. On the other hand L. monocytogenes were seldom detected above the legal safety limit (100 cfu/g) among the EU Member States. However, the analysis revealed the lack of comprehensive data regarding of prevalence of most important food-borne pathogens in Ukraine.
The results of MiCRORISK project could be relevant for competent authorities of all participants. Networking activities among research originations participating in the projects will help with better knowing each other regarding very important from public health point of view area such as microbiological hazards in the food production chain and finally, will help to improve food quality for consumers.