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UCD Centre for Food Safety

Ionad Sábháilteachta Bia UCD

Emergence of pathogens with resistance to biocides in use in the food industry

Biocides are deployed at all stages of the farm-to-fork continuum to eliminate or reduce pathogenic microorganisms and thus decrease the likelihood of human or animal exposure to such infectious agents. The use of biocides to control zoonotic pathogens has continued to increase since an EU-wide ban on the use of antibiotics as growth promoters in animal feed came into effect in January 2006. However, the emergence of biocide resistant bacteria has been reported. In contrast to their increased usage there has not been a corresponding increase in the understanding of the microbial response to biocides. It is vital that this is investigated as it is unknown if the development of resistance has an impact on bacterial response to stresses such as those encountered in food processing. It may enhance virulence of strains or may contribute to subsequent resistance to antibiotics. Such events may thus contribute to the enhanced persistence and dissemination of pathogenic strains in the food chain and pose an increased risk to consumer health. In an effort to fill these knowledge gaps the objectives of this project are (i) to establish the biocide resistance in a panel of key Gram-negative pathogens, (ii) to compare the response of biocide resistant strains with that of parent strains to stresses such as those encountered in food processing, (iii) to provide an understanding of biocide resistance using genomic, proteomic and metabolomic technologies and (iv) to determine if biocide resistance impacts on virulence characteristics and gene transfer. Such information will be crucial so that guidance can be provided to the food industry regarding appropriate biocide usage so as to minimise the development of biocide resistance.

- Dr. Karen Power
- Ms. Orla Condell
- Ms. Aine Sheridan, Teagasc

Funding Agency: Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food - FIRM

Teagasc Ashtown Food Research Centre
Dawn Farm Foods

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