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The main goal of the strategic research program FoodMicro-Pack is to contribute to production and offering of safe and durable food, optimal packaging concepts and reduced food waste in the Norwegian food sector.

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The food industry experiences constantly challenges related to foodborne risks, microbial contamination and control strategies. The ability of the food producing sector to solve these challenges and the need for improved concepts for packaging and storage is essential to ensure food quality and reduce food spoilage and waste.


The aim of FoodMicro-Pack is safe and durable food, optimal packaging concepts and reduced food waste.

Reduction of microbial contamiantion

The most important food borne pathogen that contaminated food from the food processing environment is Listeria monocytogenes. Tracking contamination and removing reservoirs are crucial to combat listeria. We investigated how whole genome sequencing can be used to reveal contamination routes and detect reservoirs within and between food factories. Using this approach, it was possible to identify the time of introduction of a clone to a factory, track how it was spread within and between hygienic zones in the factory and between factories. The study is unique and a result of a longterm, practical cooperation between norwegian food producers and introducing state-of-the art biotechnology.

We have found that using the user-concentrations of commonly used cleaning and disinfection agents are not sufficient to remove and kill Listeria biofilms. Extreme conditions recommended by the manufacturers in case of persistent listeria problems could remove the biofilms. Conventional agents had higher effect than enzyme based.

In a study mainly fcusing on household hygiene, we fond that Campylobacter, but not Salmonella died off rapidly in food soils on surfaces. Many consumers wash the surfaces at the point where they look dirty, but visually clean was not correlating to hygienically clean. From a food safety point of view, surfaces should be cleaned immediately after contact with potentially contaminated food. For the food industry, the study is an example showing how a visually clean surface may contain pathogens.

Control of microbes

Inadequate control of microorganisms in food is a major cause of food spoilage and foodborne infections. We have studied and evaluated technologies that can contribute to increased quality and shelf-life of selected risk products. Steam, organic acids, salts of organic acids, packaging technologies can contribute to reduced levels / growth of bacteria in chicken during storage. Our studies also show that several of the methods contribute to increased control of pathogenic L. monocytogenes in salmon and that bacteriophages provide increased Listeria control in rakfisk. We have further shown that several of the technologies provide potentially beneficial changes in the bacterial flora (microbiota analyzes) and to a large extent provide small changes in sensory properties of treated products. The results provide a basis for fresh foods with increased shelf life, microbial safety, and reduced food waste.

Potential spoilage bacteria have also been collected as a basis for further characterization and increased understanding of food spoilage. Collections of bacteria and yeast with potentially beneficial and desired effects for fermentation of food and beverages are also being characterized.

Optimal packaging

Selecting packaging materials with specific properties is crucial to achieve optimal food quality and shelf life. Appropriate instruments and methods for measuring the barrier properties of materials (for gases, water vapor and light) are important. A new method for measuring light transmission in packaging materials has been documented and used in several studies on chlorophyll formation in potatoes (“greening”).

Packaging materials for food should to a higher extent be recyclable. The use of recyclable materials for relatively stable, processed product (sausages) is documented. Further work has shown that recyclable materials also can be used for packaging of perishable product, with relatively short shelf life (chicken fillet) while achieving the same quality and time of shelf life. A study on the shelf life of broccoli and cauliflower packaged in different types of packaging and stored under two temperature conditions has been published.

Intelligent packaging technologies can be a valuable action in food waste reduction. Studies on intelligent packaging (electronic sensor) is completed, and tests with the spoilage, H2S producing bacteria Shewanella is performed. Work to develop a low-cost portable sensing technology based on Surface-Enhanced Raman Scattering for food safety and quality control applications is ongoing.

Molecular biology methods

We continue to improve our WGS and comparative genomics pipelines and have established a pipeline for BLAST virulence/resistance genes and phylogenetic analysis of SNP-data. To increase the detection limit and specificity in metagenomic studies we have tested immunomagnetic beads to capture Listeria and are testing whole genome amplification. In addition to applying our methods/knowledge in other wp’s and projects we have contributed to a book chapter in multivatiate “omics” data analysis and published an article about gut microbiota in T2D patients under prebiotic intervention. The effect of different statistical methods in designed microbiota studies is published.

The main goal has been to build up an analysis and knowledge platform within molecular analysis. We have focusd on bacterial community analysis (microbioita) to understand the interaction during food storage (much focus on the effect of different packaging gases); the influence of the intestinal microbiota on varoius prebiotics; and to study which micororgansims are present on surfaces in industry and in provate kitchens.

Understanding the surface microbiotia is important in order to study tge transfer of bcteria to food and sampling and vleaning routines. We have a strong focus on whole genome sequencing (WGS) og various food-related bacteria with a special focus on Literia. WGS data is used to understand knipshit, tracking and resistance to anibiotics and desinfectants.