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Teagasc - Articles and news items

Scientists identify the cause of pink discolouration in cheese

Industry news  •  15 June 2016  •  Victoria White, Digital Content Producer

Scientists have identified a heat-loving bacterium, called Thermus as the cause of pink discolouration defects in cheese…

PCR technologies for the detection of pathogens in the food industry

Issue 1 2011  •  3 March 2011  •  Geraldine Duffy, Head of Food Safety Department, Teagasc Food Research Centre

Food safety is critically important to the public health of the consumer and the economic sustainability of the agri-food sector. The consumer wants assurance that food is safe and for the food industry the economic implications and loss of goodwill associated with a food poisoning incident or scare has increased the necessity to provide assurance on food safety.

To provide assurance of safety, foods are tested to ensure they conform to micro – biological criteria for particular microbial pathogens and / or hygiene indicator organisms. There are many challenges in the detection of food pathogens; in particular, they are generally present in very low numbers in the food (often < 100 cfu g-1) in the presence of up to one million other microbial flora.

NIR approaches to food provenance determination and confirmation

Issue 1 2009  •  20 February 2009  •  Gerard Downey, Principal Research Officer, Teagasc, Ashtown Food Research Centre

Globalisation has been a significant factor behind the financial meltdown in which we all find ourselves now, but it has also led to significant changes in the variety and origin of the foodstuffs which line our supermarket shelves. In previous articles, I have discussed some analytical responses to the concerns which consumers have regarding claims made on the labels of processed foods; fingerprint technologies, such as near infrared spectroscopy, possess specific features which make them well-suited for deployment to address at least some of these concerns. The focus of this article is on the appropriate chemometric strategy to deploy in the confirmation or determination of issues of the provenance of a food or food ingredient.

What’s inside cheese?

Issue 1 2005, Past issues  •  31 January 2005  •  Dr Gerard Downey, TEAGASC, The National Food Centre, Ireland

NIR is widely used in food analysis with application to many sectors. In this article Gerry Downey addresses its value to the dairy industry.

The dairy industry is of enormous financial significance in Ireland and many other European countries and it is currently undergoing a period of large scale rationalisation into many fewer but larger production units. Concomitant decreases in employment numbers exerts pressure on the manufacturing operations to maintain high levels of quality in the wide array of products that the industry produces. Near infrared has obvious potential for addressing this issue, yet its use by the dairy sector is far from extensive. We have recently been involved in a study of the use of NIR for monitoring the quality of two types of cheese of commercial importance: Cheddar cheese and processed cheese. The results of this three-year study are currently being published but some highlights of already released material are described below.

Tools for safe food

Issue 1 2005, Past issues  •  31 January 2005  •  Geraldine Duffy and Terese Catarame, Teagasc, The National Food Centre, Ireland

The microbiological analysis of food has an important role in assessment of the quality and safety of foods. There is a direct relationship between bacterial numbers and product shelf life as growth of bacteria can result in organoleptic changes in the food, including off-colours and off-odours, rendering it unacceptable to the consumer.

The presence of pathogenic microorganisms on foods (Salmonella spp, Campylobacter, Staphyloccocus aureus, Listeria monocytogenes, E. coli O157:H7 etc.) poses the threat of food poisoning and recent publicity concerning food related health scares have increased consumer concerns regarding food safety. Owing to the economic implications and loss of goodwill associated with a food poisoning incident, food manufacturers recognise the necessity to provide the assurance on food safety that consumers demand. This is achieved by the implementation of food safety management systems such as Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) as well as by testing foods (raw material and end products) to ensure they conform to set microbiological criteria for certain microbial pathogens. These criteria may be set by regulatory authorities or by the customer (often the retailer).


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