Research groups

At the Department of Food Hygiene and Environmental Health, we investigate bacteria, viruses and toxins borne by food, animals, water and the environment that cause diseases in humans, as well as food spoilage bacteria and environmental health control. The department’s research has received the highest marks in international assessments.
Food Hygiene and Environmental Health – Research groups

Research groups that operate wholly or partly under the Department of Food Hygiene and Environmental Health in alphabetical order.


Food and Environmental Toxicology
Group leader: Raimo Pohjanvirta
In their lifetime, humans are exposed to hundreds of thousands of chemical contaminants in the environment. Usually, they are not hazardous to one’s health, but, for example, exposure at a sensitive gestational age can lead to changes that become evident only in adulthood or even future generations. The study of the adverse effects of environmental chemicals is called environmental toxicology.

Food and Environmental Virology Research Group
Group leader: Leena Maunula
Our research focuses on the spread of human pathogenic viruses through food, water and environment (surfaces). These viruses are primarily enteric, such as noroviruses, and hepatitis A and E viruses. The group develops sensitive methods for the detection of these viruses from surfaces and from foodstuff. We also investigate the persistence and stability of the viruses during food processing. Our team also looks for methods to inactivate contaminating viruses under various conditions and seeks solutions for improving food safety. Under these topics, we also give our contribution to the SARS-CoV-2 research.

Food Control
Group leader: Janne Lundén

Our multidisciplinary research focuses on the effectiveness of food control. The possibilities for consumers to ensure the safety and authenticity of purchased foods are very limited and a society driven food control system is necessary. We are interested in food control systems, control methods, measures taken in food control and the effects of food control on food businesses. Our goal is to increase public health by decreasing foodborne illnesses.


Safe and Sustainable Meat Chain
Group leaders: Maria Fredriksson-Ahomaa, Annamari Heikinheimo, Riikka Laukkanen-Ninios
The world should be supplied with safe food which has been produced sustainably and ethically. This research community focuses on microbiology and control of safe and high quality meat production.

Spore-forming and Cold-tolerant Foodborne Pathogens
Group leader: Miia Lindström

The research work conducted in Professor Miia Lindström's group focuses on molecular, ecological, epidemiological and evolutionary facets of foodborne pathogens with a specific emphasis on Clostridium botulinum and Listeria monocytogenes associated with food safety and general public health.


Veterinary Environmental Hygiene Research Group
Group leader: Rauni Kivistö


Zoonotic Antimicrobial Resistance
Group leader: Annamari Heikinheimo
Myös suomeksi / also in Finnish: Zoonoottinen mikrobilääkeresistenssi

Group's research focuses on the epidemiology of zoonotic multiresistant bacteria (i.e. bacteria transmitting between animals and humans), aiming to improve knowledge on the occurrence and transmission routes of zoonotic antimicrobial resistant bacteria along the food chain, such as ESBL/pAmpC/carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteriaceae and livestock-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Our studies also aim towards implementing strategies to prevent further development and spread of antimicrobial resistant bacteria between animals and humans.


Waterborne Pathogens
Group leader: Tarja Pitkänen

Group's research interests focus on environmental health and environmental microbiology. Specifically, the group expertise covers water microbiology in terms how waterborne microbes might endanger the health of water users. This entails microbes and methods used for water quality monitoring and fecal source tracking, and pathogens causing waterborne and zoonotic infections. The research group leader Tarja Pitkänen is co-affiliated with the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL, a governmental research institute in Finland.