Unit Bacterial Toxins, Food Service

The unit focuses on scientific questions regarding the bacterial genera Staphylococcus, Bacillus, Clostridium and Clostridioides. Some species within these bacterial genera can produce toxins, which cause food poisoning and foodborne disease outbreaks. Moreover, especially Staphylococcus aureus and Clostridioides difficile are of particular health political relevance due to their resistance to antibiotics.

The Specialised laboratory for spore formers and the National Reference Laboratory for coagulase-positive staphylococci including Staphylococcus aureus (NRL-Staph) are established within the unit. The NRL-Staph deals with food hygiene issues related to staphylococcal enterotoxins and a possible consumer exposure through methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) along the food chain. The tasks of a reference laboratory include the development and validation of methods, the organisation of interlaboratory proficiency tests, the provision of reference material, conducting confirmatory diagnostic tests and the characterisation of bacterial strains.

The unit also conducts intensive joint research with national and international partners as one of its main duties.

In addition, the unit issues expert assessments concerning the prevention of foodborne illnesses in catering industries and community facilities like hospitals, nursing homes or kindergartens and participates in the drafting of official recommendations for the prevention of foodborne infections and food poisoning in private households.

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