<p>The work aims to improve the response of health professionals, industry and government to a foodborne disease outbreak, improve public health and prevent potential economic loss.</p>
<p>This project will consist of a desk based exercise, to consider current, new and emerging molecular microbiological methods that could be employed within the epidemiological process for identifying and tracing the source of a food poisoning outbreak. The challenges to be considered will be:</p>
<p>1. The rapid and accurate detection of the presence of particular organisms.<br />
2. Techniques that may allow detection/ identification of multiple pathogens (this may be Genera/Species/Strains) in one test.<br />
3. Techniques that can be used to detect or identify particular virulence or pathogenicity determinants within organisms.<br />
4. Subtyping or characterisation methods used within outbreaks to pinpoint causal links.</p>
<p>The project also includes producing a report of the workshop 'The application of molecular epidemiology to investigations of foodborne disease outbreaks: current status and future plans' organised by the Food Standards Agency, the Health Protection Agency and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council on 17 January 2012.</p>
Current methodology in the identification of a foodborne disease outbreak tends to be based on traditional microbiological techniques which result in certain unavoidable delays which can hamper identification of the source. It has clearly been recognised that molecular microbiological techniques could play an ever increasing role in Microbiological Risk Assessment (MRA) in foods . Correct use of MRA should allow foods to be produced ever more safely, and reduce the incidence of food poisoning outbreaks in the future. It is considered that techniques identified in this project could result in useful inputs into Risk Assessment models in the future.
<p>Find more about this project and other FSA food safety-related projects at the <a href="http://www.food.gov.uk/science/research/" target="_blank">Food Standards Agency Research webpage</a>.