French group to study bacteria in food factories

French group to study bacteria in food factories

by Sue Jones
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A unit has been created in France to gain a deeper insight into certain pathogens in food plants.

The Actia Fastypers group was started by the French Ministry of Agriculture. It runs for five years and involves ANSES, the National Institute for Agriculture, Food, and Environment (Inrae), dairy specialist Actalia and the French Pork and Pig Institute (IFIP).

Two departments at the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety (ANSES) are involved, one with expertise in Salmonella and Listeria and the other with knowledge on antibiotics, biocides, residues and resistance.

The initial focus is planned to be on Listeria and Salmonella in the pork and dairy sectors. Presence of Listeria and Salmonella in food processing sites poses several problems as they can survive for a long time in the environment and some strains may be resistant to treatment with disinfectants.

Partners will try to understand how these bacteria manage to adapt and persist in the environment and in food plants, and also develop tools to characterize and detect persistent bacterial strains.

The first ANSES unit will provide its expertise in the genomic characterization of strains to identify which types are associated with the characteristics studied such as persistence in the environment and virulence. The second will study adaptation and resistance of bacteria to the biocidal cleaning products used.

The goal is to develop tools that can be used routinely by food producers and manufacturers to identify the strains of bacteria present at different stages of the supply chain. Results from these analyzes can help producers make decisions to adapt the cleaning and disinfection process to characteristics of the bacterial strains likely to be found.

Decrease in hepatitis A reports
Meanwhile, data published by Sante publique France has revealed a decline in hepatitis A in 2020.

Hepatitis 1000X565Hepatitis A is spread when someone ingests the virus through close contact with an infected person or by eating contaminated food or drink. Even microscopic amounts of contaminated foods or beverages can cause infection by the liver virus.

The number of reports fell to 411 in 2020, down from 1,277 in 2019. Officials said the drop was probably because of less international travel and measures introduced related to COVID-19 that restricted circulation of the hepatitis A virus such as better hand hygiene and closure of restaurants and schools.

The main risk factors in the two to six weeks before onset of symptoms were consumption of seafood for 28 percent of cases; a trip outside France for 21 percent of cases; and living at home with a child younger than 3 years old for 20 percent of cases.

As in previous years, jaundice was reported for the majority of patients and almost half of them were hospitalized.

Reporting rates were largely the same for women and men. The average age of cases was 35 years old but ranged from 2 to 95. The age group in which the incidence was highest was 6 to 15 years old, which reflects findings from previous years.

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