Transversal unit foodborne pathogens

Unit responsible: 

Determination of and follow-up on the microbial resistance of pathogens and indicator organisms. Sequencing, molecular analyses and typing.

We use the pathogenic germs (Salmonella and Campylobacter) isolated from food, feed and animals, to map microbial resistance. This also applies to E. coli as an indicator organism. After all, resistance to antimicrobial components represents a growing problem in human and veterinary medicine. Specifically this resistance jeopardises the prevention or efficient treatment of infections caused by bacteria. Resistance to antimicrobial components originating in food is therefore a global concern.

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We work mainly for the Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC) and the Federal Public Service (FPS) Health. In the laboratory, internationally standardised methods (ISO) are used to detect and count the various germs under ISO 17025 accreditation. 

The microbial resistance of bacteria is determined according to the minimum inhibitory concentrations (MIC) of a defined set of antibiotics, in accordance with the specific guidelines imposed by Europe. We also pay extra attention to extensive resistance to beta-lactam antibiotics (ESBLs), AmpC beta-lactamases and carbapenemases. We are accredited as an NRL for antibiotic resistance and report our results to Europe (European Food Safety Authority, EFSA) every year. As a laboratory we are ISO17025 accredited for this analysis. We also carry out further typing of the isolates using molecular methods, such as sequence determination (including NGS). This enables us to monitor trends in microbial resistance.  

As a national reference laboratory in food microbiology, we organise interlaboratory studies for FASFC-accredited laboratories and perform audits. We share our expertise by providing training, as well as being available for consultation by laboratories, authorities and universities. Our experts also monitor ISO-CEN standardisation continually and belong to various national and international working groups. 

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