Research Programme B14: List of Projects

Last updated:
25 June 2003
Details of Agency-funded projects under the Foodborne Disease research programme (B14).
The research project reviewed current practices used in the management of Listeria monocytogenes in the UK cooked sliced meat sector. A number of recommendations were made highlighting areas where additional information, guidance or training would be of benefit to industry and enforcement officials.
Results available
There is currently no effective method for routinely assessing the infectivity of hepatitis E virus (HEV), an emerging foodborne agent. This critical review will consider the available literature on approaches to assessing the infectivity of HEV and other enteric viruses with the aim of recommending a suitable method for foodborne HEV.
Results available
This review aimed to identify methods used to detect norovirus in food, the environment and in clinical samples. The study assessed the potential of these methods to distinguish infectious and non-infectious norovirus, focusing particularly on approaches capable of assessing whether the condition of the norovirus capsid or RNA can be used as a guide to the likelihood of the virus infecting people.
Results available
There is currently a degree of uncertainty regarding how hepatitis A and E viruses survive in different foods, fomites and environments. To address this, the Food Standards Agency commissioned a critical review on the effects of heat, pH and water activity on the survival of hepatitis A and E viruses.
Results available
An examination of published studies to determine the survival characteristics of norovirus in foods and on food contact surfaces and whether chemical or physical treatments are effective in reducing or eliminating norovirus in the food chain.
Results available
This survey follows on from the 2014/15 survey examining fresh, whole UK-produced chickens sold at retail. The survey will again look at prevalence and levels of campylobacter contamination both on the chicken skin and on the outside of the packaging.
This research aims to determine the function of each of the components of a complex novel system in Campylobacter jejuni, which is involved in high-level resistance to antimicrobial peptides, and to assess its contribution to colonisation in chickens.
The results of this study provide a robust measure of the acceptability, among UK consumers, of potential raw meat decontamination treatments. It measured the impact that different levels of information about the treatment would have on consumers' acceptability and labelling preferences, should treated meat go on sale.
Results available
The food chain is perceived as an important pathway for the transmission of antimicrobial resistant (AMR) pathogens and other bacteria to humans. We aim to assess the prevalence of AMR bacteria in retail pork, poultry meat, dairy products, seafood and fresh produce in the UK.
A systematic review of the persistence and survival of human noroviruses (hNoVs) in foods and the environment was carried out to answer two questions: What are the hNoV persistence characteristics in food and the environment? How can these properties be altered by applying physical and/or chemical treatments to foods or food contact surfaces?
Results available
The Food Standards Agency commissioned a research project to assess whether freezing chicken livers, before they are prepared and cooked in a catering or domestic kitchen, can significantly reduce the incidence of campylobacter contamination.
Results available
This survey looks at the proportion of Campylobacter jejuni and C. coli strains isolated from year 1 of the FSA’s retail chicken survey that were resistant to a range of antimicrobial agents.
Results available
All campylobacter isolates collected during two infectious intestinal disease Studies (IID1 and IID2) were subjected to a well-established pipeline leading to whole genome sequencing (WGS) using the Illumina MiSeq platform. We extracted and analysed multi-locus sequence typing (MLST) data and conducted wider comparative genomics analyses, all data were submitted to publically accessible databases
Results available
The main purpose of this study is to accurately define the proportion of UK-acquired norovirus infections which is attributable to consumption of contaminated foods.
The study investigated practicalities of using poultry vaccination as an effective control measure against human campylobacter infection. Current vaccines have variable efficacy preventing campylobacter, suggesting that bacteria can evade antibodies in a process called phase variation. Results from this study provided important evidence understanding how campylobacter survives poultry vaccination.
Results available
This project examined current recipes and methods for producing chicken liver pâté and identified interventions (freezing, heat, organic acids) to eliminate the key hazard (campylobacter) whilst ensuring that the final product is acceptable to consumers.
Results available
The aim of this work was to develop and validate phenotypic and molecular methods for isolation, detection and partial characterisation of extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL) producing Enterobacteriaceae in selected food matrices.
Results available
The aim of project FS101057 was to draft guidance to reduce the risk of vulnerable groups contracting listeriosis in healthcare settings.
Results available
This project will establish sentinel surveillance for human campylobacter infections in rural and urban populations and provide a reference dataset for the principle food and animal sources. This will be used to develop and implement attribution to food animals and other sources, mapping the sources of human infection.
The FSA is undertaking a harmonised survey of antimicrobial resistance in raw beef, pork and chicken samples at retail on behalf of the European Commission (EC).
Results available
In 2010, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) published a target to reduce the levels of Campylobacter in UK-produced fresh chicken. The target was informed by a mathematical model to estimate levels of Campylobacter through the broiler supply chain. The model was found fit for purpose, however, some improvements could be made.
Results available
This project used expert review of foodborne pathogen outbreak case studies to investigate the integration of pathogen genomic sequence data with other datasets in incident and outbreak investigations. The work identified benefits of such an approach and issues/barriers. Some of the findings support implementation while others could guide further research.
Results available
The purpose of this study was to estimate the burden of UK-acquired foodborne disease in 2009, when the second study of infectious intestinal disease (IID2 study) was undertaken, and to quantify the contribution of various food commodities to total foodborne disease burden.
Results available
This research aimed to identify the sources of campylobacter in broiler house chickens, and introduce effective control measures to reduce campylobacter infection.
Results available
The project sampled all stages of broiler chicken production, from farm to retail, in order to record the type and level of campylobacter contamination.
Results available
Packing poultry in a modified atmosphere (MA) with a high oxygen concentration has been suggested as a way to reduce the numbers of Campylobacter on poultry meat. High O2 MA gas mixes reduced the numbers of Campylobacter. A MA with 80% O2 and 20% CO2 would be expected to reduce the numbers of campylobacters.
Results available
This project was to carry out initial work that contributed to the Global Microbial Identifier (GMI) initiative. This pilot study entailed sequencing 20 listeria genomes from a collection at the Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera) formed during an FSA survey of pathogens in retailed red meat in the UK, conducted in 2007.
Results available
This project has developed a system dynamics model of the norovirus transmission system to assess the relative importance of the different epidemiological transmission mechanisms. The model will be further developed by the FSA’s Operational Research Unit to help prioritise further research into norovirus and to model the potential impact of different interventions.
Results available
This was a short project which gave independent broiler chicken farmers the opportunity to test for Campylobacter on their farms for free. It was a voluntary scheme which helped to raise further awareness of Campylobacter and it yielded some potentially useful information with regards to what factors influence colonisation.
Results available
This research examined the different systems in which UK chickens are grown to identify cost-effective controls to reduce the prevalence of campylobacter
Results available
This project assessed the risks to human health from Coxiella burnetii (C. burnetii) in unpasteurised milk and milk products from goats, sheep and cows in the UK. C. burnetii is a bacterium that causes Q fever in animals and humans.
Results available
This project aims to examine the contributions to disease caused by human behaviour and human-environment interactions which may influence exposure to organisms and risk of disease.
This study aims to determine the prevalence of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in Campylobacter in retail chicken and AMR in Salmonella in retail pork as well as commensals in these meats. It will be representative of UK market share with sampling commencing in September 2017 for two months. Samples will be tested at contracted laboratories and report of the survey will be available in Spring 2018.
The contribution of animal, meat and environmental strains of extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL)-producing E.coli to human disease has not been firmly established. FSA funding within this multi-agency research programme will allow investigation of foodborne Escherichia coli which exhibits antimicrobial resistance, on raw meats and fresh produce purchased at retail.
The purpose of this study is to improve our understanding of the contribution of extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL) positive commensal <em>E. coli</em> strains, and their mobile genetic elements, to the disease burden of ESBL-producing <em>E. coli</em> in the human population.
This research project aims to estimate the burden and causes of infectious intestinal disease (IID) in the UK population.
Results available
This survey sampled pre-packed ready-to-eat sliced meats purchased in SMEs in the UK. Samples were examined to detect and/or enumerate Listeria monocytogenes and other Listeria spp. and hygiene indicator organisms Escherichia coli and Enterobacteriaceae, as well as physical characteristics: salt content, water activity and pH.
Results available