Assessment of microbial risks in foods

Salmonella, Listeria, Campylobacter – and other bacteria as well as viruses in foods can constitute a health risk for humans. The task of BfR is to control the spreading of these microbial risks in the food chain and assess the health risk of contaminated foods and feeds. The control of pathogens starts as early as possible: during food production and processing.

Foodborne diseases caused by microorganisms

Microorganisms are – apart from malnutrition – the by far most frequent cause for foodborne diseases. Pathogens can occur in foods originating from animals but also in plant-based foods. The currently most important food infections, campylobacteriosis and salmonellosis originate above all in the primary production, i.e. the animal stocks.

Research on Salmonella infections and other zoonoses

Diseases which can be transmitted from animals to humans are referred to as zoonoses. In this connection the foodborne Listeria, toxoplasms and Yersinia are the most relevant.

The tasks of the BfR experts include research on zoonotic agents, their transmission and dissemination paths as well as the development of diagnostic methods which are suitable for routine examinations of foods.

A salmonellosis is an inflammatory disease of the gastro-intestinal tract (infectious gastroenteritis) caused by Salmonella (bacteria). It is caused by poor hygiene measures, the consumption of contaminated drinking water or contaminated foods.

Campylobacteriosis in turn refers to diseases which are caused by bacteria of the Campylobacter genus, a genus of spiral bacteria.

Reference laboratories for zoonotic agents

In view of controlling the most relevant zoonotic agents, BfR develops measures for a sustainably safe food production.

BfR hosts additional national reference laboratories for different zoonotic agents in order to meet the very high demands on securing consumer health protection.


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