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Current Projects

Specific mitigation strategies for reduction of Campylobacter along the food chain

With about 200,000 human cases every year, human Campylobacteriosis is the most frequently reported food-borne illness in the EU. The actual number of cases is believed to be about 9 million per year.  According to current scientific studies, an integrated approach, including the entire food chain, is required in order to reduce the number of human infections. The aim of this project is to find synergies between measures reducing Campylobacter in broiler production. None of the existing measures is ready for market and sufficiently effective. This approach of a synergistic combination of measures for commercial broiler production aims at reducing Campylobacter on broiler carcasses and thus at improving human health in a “One-Health” approach.

The concept will be tested in vitro and measures will be compared in an animal model in the consortium to find the best strategy for improving public health by reduction of human infections.

Characterization of Campylobacter-specific Bacteriophages and evaluation of their application with regard to food safety

Infection with Campylobacter spp. is the most common cause of bacterial gastroenteritis in humans, and is associated with sequelae like autoimmune neuropathy and reactive arthritis. Campylobacter jejuni is most abundant as a commensal in the chicken intestinal tract and most intervention strategies target primary production of broiler meat in order to reduce entry of Campylobacter in the food production chain. The reduction of Campylobacter in primary production is considered to be effective for reducing human Campylobacteriosis.

Application of bacteriophages is under discussion for reduction of Campylobacter in primary production of chicken meat. Previous studies showed promising results but there is currently no approved product for bacteriophage application in broiler production. For approval procedures a thorough characterization of suitable strains is needed. For the evaluation of their use in regard to food safety it is particularly important to eliminate the possibility of transducing and temperent bacteriophages that can support the transmission of bacterial genes through increased lateral gene transfer.

The aim of this project is to isolate new bacteriophages from chicken samples and to test them for their suitability for application in food production environments.

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Bianca Beyersdorf
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