Unit Bacterial Toxins, Food Service
The unit focuses on scientific questions regarding staphylococci, bacilli (e.g. Bacillus cereus) and Clostridia. As they multiply, these bacterial species can produce toxins which cause food poisoning and foodborne disease outbreaks. In addition to this, certain representatives of these bacterial species (above all Staphylococcus aureus and Clostridium difficile) are of special health policy significance due to their resistance to antibiotics.
The National Reference Laboratory for coagulase-positive staphylococci including Staphylococcus aureus (NRL-Staph) is established within the unit. The NRL-Staph deals with food hygiene issues of 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 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.