Food safety and risk management

Research on food safety focuses on understanding the formation and management of risks associated with food from farm to fork. Key research themes of the department include the properties and epidemiology of food-borne pathogens, chemical risks in food products, the development of control measures and food chain control.

According to an estimate by the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than 20 million Europeans contract a disease from spoiled food each year. In Finland, the corresponding figure is tens of thousands of cases per year. This generates human suffering as well as costs to the food industry and society. The research conducted at the department is aimed at reducing the disease burden of humans by identifying risks and developing new prevention measures. 

Answers are sought regarding the virulence, stress tolerance and contamination routes of pathogens, in addition to which diagnostics based on molecular biology are developed. In research on zoonoses that tolerate cold, the focus is on identifying mechanisms relating to stress tolerance and toxin production, investigating epidemiology and developing novel management measures.

In food virology, researchers investigate the role of viruses in food poisoning cases and pursue solutions to prevent the spread of viruses. In research on antimicrobial resistance, the goal is to understand the reasons behind the phenomenon as well as its development and spread, and to design preventive measures targeted at a global issue that threatens both human and animal health throughout the world. The research in food toxicology conducted at the department focuses particularly on the mechanisms of action of dioxins, serving the risk assessment of dioxins and similar chemicals. Research on food control is aimed at promoting the impact of societal control by developing related indicators and control methods.

Our research relies on a strong research tradition, the latest research methods as well as international and multidisciplinary collaboration. We seek solutions to practical challenges associated with food production by promoting consumer health and the operating preconditions of the food industry. Our researchers collaborate with Finnish and international organisations involved in food safety, and contribute in expert committees to promote the utilisation of research-based knowledge.