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Exploring the chopping board microbiome


By analysing the microbiology of chopping boards, we address two priorities of "assuring food safety and standards": 1. How can the FSA better understand and reduce the impact of foodborne pathogens? We will access hard-to-reach communities in authentic environments to gather robust evidence of hygiene practice and microbiological outcomes. By monitoring cleaning regimes in a minimally invasive manner, and identifying best practice, we will produce bespoke educational materials used to bring about behavioural change. 2. How can the FSA improve the evidence base concerning antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and food? We will assess AMR of the organisms identified and correlate this with the cleaning regimes to inform our ultimate recommendations. Our showcase event will educate our communities about the risks of AMR, especially in a food context. We have identified hard-to-access communities with intrinsic links to Aston University and will gain privileged access through ambassadors. This will diversify citizen science and determine if there are any bespoke food hygiene challenges. These groups are those that identify as minority ethnic and those in multioccupancy households. We will use our ambassadors to attract members of their households; we have trusted relationships with our ambassadors through our roles as educators. Ambassadors and citizens will be involved in co-creation at all stages of the project as well as testing their own samples in the laboratory if they wish to, being fully integrated into the project. Ambassadors will facilitate engaging participants with the project, providing an established trusted link to reduce any associated anxieties. By involving citizens in the project, we will gain authentic samples in a manner otherwise impossible - it is vital the microbiological samples arrive for testing within a couple of hours. We also gain huge benefits of scale, having hundreds of students who may choose to take part as ambassadors.

Professor Anthony Hilton,; Dr Rachel Pateman, Dr Tony Worthington
Aston University
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