An increasing number of food poisoning cases are caused by raw vegetables

Basic research in the field of microbiology helps prevent and control risks related to food safety.

An increasing number of food poisoning cases are caused by raw vegetables

“Food safety is quite an extensive area. The chain of production must be understood all the way from primary production,” says professor Johanna Björkroth.

The fuss about the procedures in the fresh food sections of stores and the marinating of expired products led Björkroth to comment about it on television as well. Björkroth finds the debate justified.

The research unit represented by her does not participate in food control, but makes an impact by supplying information to the industry and official controllers. By means of basic research in microbiology, it is possible to anticipate and control the risks related to the cold storage of food.

“The industry aims at choosing process techniques which would ensure food quality and safety. When some aspect in the production process is changed, it selects bacterial strains and may cause them to adjust to the change.”

In fact, basic research provides vital information for product development carried out by the food industry. A lot of new information can be produced regarding the behaviour of spoiling microbes in particular.

“Research also focuses on what kind of marinades would ensure product preservability. By no means does marinade kill bacteria, as was argued some time ago.”

According to Björkroth, it is unlikely that there will be any entirely new and extraordinary food-conveyed disease in Finland. The old causes for food poisoning, that is, the norovirus, bacillus, yersinia, and the campylobacterium, retained their frequency last year as well.

“The significance of viruses as the cause of extensive epidemics has increased. It is also interesting to see that more attention was paid previously on controlling meat products. Now, raw vegetables increasingly cause food poisoning. This is because the demand for and processing frequency of raw salads and grated salads is higher than before.”

Read more:

Centre of Excellence in Microbial Food Safety Research (UH)

Food on the website of the Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira

Text: Anna-Kaisa Kontinaho
Photo: City of Helsinki Picture Bank

Translation: AAC Noodi Oy

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