A Dutch university has called on food industry partners for a project aiming to develop preservation strategies against Listeria monocytogenes.

The project will support the sector by developing hurdle strategies for the pathogen and design models to describe the combined additive, multiplicative and synergistic effects of their combinations. This should enable manufacturers to maximize product shelf life and ensure food safety more efficiently.

Wageningen Food and Biobased Research reported the project is planned to start at the beginning of 2021 and run until the end of 2023.

Challenge testing for Listeria monocytogenes is time consuming and costly. Predictive modelling can reduce required experiments to prove the applied preservation strategy by limiting experimental work to validation of the model predictions, according to the project brief.

Predictive modelling and stopping growth
Current models can include pH, water activity, temperature and heat inactivation but information on effects of combinations of natural preservatives and processing is lacking.

The project will investigate efficacy of natural antimicrobial ingredients and mild preservation methods. The aim is to find combined effects between the different hurdles that inhibit Listeria monocytogenes growth. This information will feed into the models.

Development of models to describe and predict responses of Listeria monocytogenes due to combined hurdles will enable partners to optimize shelf life and safety of their products.

The consortium is open to stakeholders in the ready-to-eat food production chain from ingredient companies to consumer goods manufacturers. The call for partners is until May 31, 2020.

In return for in-cash and in-kind contributions to the project, partners can specify side-streams and end-products for research, and provide study direction.

Further Listeria research
Other projects on Listeria include ListAdapt that ended earlier this year. The consortium included the European Union Reference laboratory (EURL) for Listeria monocytogenes, seven National Reference Laboratories (NRL) for Listeria of which two also are National Public Health Laboratories and the EURL for antimicrobial resistance.

The aim was to decipher molecular mechanisms of the adaptation of Listeria to various ecological niches by comparing genotypic and phenotypic data from a set of strains from environment, animals, foods and clinical cases in several European countries.

The University of Strathclyde is leading a different project looking at optical detection of Listeria in the chilled food environment using bionanosensors. It began in June 2018 and runs until November 2021.

Campden BRI is evaluating the growth potential of Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat foods in work from January 2020 to December 2021. The institute is also working on summarizing and consolidating approaches and tools to control Listeria in the food production environment in an effort that began in January 2019 and runs until December 2020.

The Institute of Food Research has around one year left on work to understand the ecology of Listeria and its interactions with microbiomes in processing facilities to inform biocontrol strategies.

Nofima is part of the PathoSeq project that continues until March 2023. The focus is on Listeria monocytogenes, which is considered the top food safety challenge in the Norwegian food processing industry.

Fundación Medina is participating in the LISSA project: Alternatives to the use of disinfectants in the food industry aimed at reducing the survival of Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella on surfaces, coordinated by the INIA (National Institute of Research and Agricultural and Food Technology) and funded by the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities in Spain.

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