Microbiological Safety of Food Funders Group

At the meeting of the Interdepartmental Group on Microbiology (IDGM) on 18 July 1997, a decision was made to rename the Group the Microbiological Safety of Food Funders Group (MSFFG) and to extend the membership to include all public funders of microbiological food safety in the UK.

Background to the MSFFG

The MSFFG was established in January 1998 and is a cross-representational body involving bodies who fund microbiological research in the area of food safety. The MSFFG includes officials from the Food Standards Agency, Food Standards Agency Scotland (www.food.gov.uk/scotland), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (www.defra.gov.uk), Department of Health (www.dh.gov.uk), Department of Agriculture and Rural Development for Northern Ireland (www.dardni.gov.uk), Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (www.bbsrc.ac.uk). The MSFFG Membership was extended in 2005 to include representatives from the Meat and Livestock Commission (www.mlc.org.uk), Food Safety Promotion Board (http://www.safefood.eu/Home.aspx), Medical Research Council (www.mrc.ac.uk), the Environment Agency (www.environment-agency.gov.uk) and the Health Protection Agency (www.hpa.org.uk)

Terms of reference

The MSFFG considers the whole of the food chain and has the following terms of reference:

'To assist the co-ordination of publicly funded research and development on the microbiological safety of the food chain with a view to informing the R&D effort, identifying gaps and overlaps, and providing reports as appropriate.'

The MSFFG does not have a role in managing or directing research projects or programmes, nor does it hold a budget. These aspects of research are the responsibility of the funding organisations.

The common food poisoning organisms are included with its remit, as are 'emerging' foodborne pathogens. The Group will discuss specific areas of food microbiology research such as those relating to HACCP or Microbiological Risk Assessment. The MSFFG will also cover work on organisms which are predominantly of animal welfare and health significance (e.g. Mycobacterium bovis, Brucella, etc.) but only where they have a food safety implication.

The MSFFG does not have a role in the co-ordination of microbiological food surveillance. However, the MSFFG will cover research in support of surveillance.

Output of the MSFFG

The MSFFG has agreed a standard format for categorising Government funded research relating to the microbiological safety of food. This has enabled the production of a database of all currently funded relevant research, which will be updated regularly. The MSFFG will agree from time to time the best means of disseminating of this information to interested parties.

MSFFG meetings may focus on a particular area of research (e.g. VTEC, Campylobacter, Salmonella). Through the exchange of information on the work currently funded and subsequent discussion, a position paper on currently funded for each identified topic will be produced. The MSFFG will agree the best means of disseminating these position papers to interested parties. The MSFFG welcome comments on these papers.

Role of MSFFG members

MSFFG Members, as representatives of funding bodies, have the responsibility to provide project details of all their currently funded research relating to the microbiological safety of food in an agreed format. This includes the project number, the project title, the organisation carrying out the research, and the start date and duration of the work.

MSFFG Members have the responsibility to submit project details and supporting abstracts and other relevant information on identified topics of research for discussion at MSFFG meetings and subsequent production of position papers.

MSFFG Members have the responsibility to assist with the implementation of the terms of reference.

MSFFG Co-ordinator

A Co-ordinator for the MSFFG supports the Group's activities through maintenance of the database of relevant research and drafting of reports.

Membership

Members of the committee are:
Paul Cook (Chair) (FSA Hygiene and Microbiology Division)
Adam Hardgrave (FSA Hygiene and Microbiology Division)
Irene Hill (FSA Hygiene and Microbiology Division)
Mary Howell (FSA Hygiene and Microbiology Division)
Jacqui McElhiney (FSA Scotland)
Kirsten Dunbar (FSA Northern Ireland)
Ailsa Wight (Department of Health)
Stephen Wyllie (Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
Alex Murrow (Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
Adam Staines (Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council)
Arthur Gilmore (Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute – Northern Ireland)
Paul Coville-Nash (Medical Research Council)
David McCleery (Food Safety Promotion Board, Ireland)
Kerry Walsh (Environment Agency)
John Threlfall (Health Protection Agency)
Gordon Nichols (Health Protection Agency)

Contributory members
Nick Ambrose (Scottish Executive Environment and Rural Affairs Department)
Phil Morgan (FSA Wales)

MSFFG co-ordinator
Celia Caulcott (Cooper and Caulcott Ltd.)

Secretariat
Bobby Kainth (FSA Hygiene and Microbiology Division)
Daniel Lovelle-Díaz (FSA Hygiene and Microbiology Division)

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