University College Dublin Logo

Advanced Search

Irish Microbial Risk Assessment Network: Newsletter 4

Welcome to the Spring 2012 issue of the Irish Microbial Risk Assessment Newsletter

In this issue of the newsletter:

safefood Knowledge Networks Conference Belfast

The safefood Knowledge Networks Conference will take place in Belfast on the 1st and 2nd May 2012. This two-day event will focus on the four foodborne bacterial networks (Campylobacter, Salmonella, Verocytotoxigenic Escherichia coli and Listeria). The conference will bring together stakeholders and researchers working on foodborne bacterial pathogens on the island of Ireland, thus fostering collaboration. As well as plenary sessions covering topics relevant to all pathogens, there will be parallel sessions on each of the four individual pathogen networks on the afternoon of Day 1 of the conference. Several of the Networks partners will be presenting at the conference. For more information please visit

Network to launch Webinars

The Irish Microbial Risk Assessment Network is about to host a series of webinars. These will be short web-based lectures on a variety of subjects. A key feature of these webinars is the interactive element between presenter and audience. The Network is keen to hear your views on what topics should be covered. Please contact with your suggestions. Details of the first webinar will be circulated shortly.

Microbiological criteria

Microbiological criteria are tools that can be used in assessing the safety and quality of foods. Due to reasons related to sampling, methodology and uneven distribution of micro-organisms microbiological testing of finished food products done alone is however insufficient to guarantee the safety of a foodstuff tested. The safety of the foodstuffs must principally be ensured by a more preventative approach, such as product and process design and the application of Good Hygiene and Manufacturing Practices (GHP, GMP) and the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles. The European Community therefore developed microbiological criteria for foodstuffs. Commission Regulation (EC) No 2073/2005 on microbiological criteria for foodstuffs, applicable from 1 January 2006, lays down food safety criteria for certain important foodborne bacteria, their toxins and metabolites, such as Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes, Enterobacter sakazakii, staphylococcal enterotoxins and histamine in specific foodstuffs. These criteria are applicable to products placed on the market during their entire shelf-life. In addition, the Regulation sets down certain process hygiene criteria to indicate the correct functioning of the production process. Further information can be found at or on the Food Safety Authority of Ireland website. A tutorial on Microbiological criteria and shelf-life: Current legal situation by Dr. Mary Friel can also be found on the Resources page.

Risk ranking

Ranking hazards that are likely to occur in the food chain is a key step in driving risk management actions and in prioritising resources for control of the hazards of most concern. A hazard is a biological, chemical, or physical substance that can cause harm to human health. Chain mapping and hazard identification are essential prerequisites before risk ranking can be undertaken. These steps have become more complex as food chains become more and more complex and increasingly global in their nature. It is only relatively recently that formal risk ranking techniques have emerged to rank microbial and chemical hazards in food. In the first instance, techniques have been developed to rank these hazards separately, however there have been recent developments to rank both microbiological and chemical hazards in a unified framework. As with quantitative risk assessments, risk ranking techniques require good sources of data to minimise subjectivity of the outcomes. The Irish Microbial Risk Assessment Network have carried out work on risk ranking. For further information please contact






Colourede file folders
Newsletter 4