The core methods of food microbiology have been standardised for years, and financially significant decisions on the safety and marketability of products are made on the basis of studies conducted according to these standards. Legislation, such as the Microbiological Criteria Regulation, requires the use of certain standard procedures in, for example, Salmonella, Listeria and Campylobacter analyses. The Finnish Food Authority’s microbiology unit has played an important role in the development of standards for the procedures, including participation in the international validation studies for the 15 principal standardised methods.
The international validation study of 15 of the most important standardised microbiological methods, funded by the European Commission, was completed in 2017. In 2012 - 2017, the microbiology unit of the Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira, the present Finnish Food Authority, led a sub-project of the validation study, in which the functionality of the standardised method for pathogenic Yersinia enterocolitica bacteria was tested and updated.
Results benefit the whole field of analytics and food control
The new and more reliable standardised microbiological methods have been put to use in Europe and elsewhere in the world.
”We have long suffered from a lack of uniform test information on the performance of the standards. Studies to support the methodological solutions chosen in the standards were commissioned to rectify this. The international working group, whose experts reconciled the different opinions into a functional whole, also played a crucial role”, says the head of the Yersinia project, Saija Hallanvuo, Senior Researcher, PhD in Food Science, Finnish Food Authority.
Reference laboratory activities are of key importance
Finnish experts in microbiological methods have good opportunities for influencing the contents of international methods and the commissioning of new methods. The development of standards is coordinated with the Finnish Standards Association SFS through the Food Laboratory Commission ELATO as part of the reference laboratory activities of The Finnish Food Authority.
”International ISO standards can be perceived as rigid and inflexible. That is not always the case at all. As the project manager, I had to put the finishing touches on certain details, therefore my views and decisions were also included in the standard at some points”, says Hallanvuo.
A themed issue of International Journal of Food Microbiology describing the studies conducted in the 15 methodological sub-projects was published in January 2019.
The Finnish Food Authority’s contribution for the study of the Yersinia enterocolitica method can be read here
Read more about the reference laboratory activities of the Finnish Food Authority.
Senior Researcher Saija Hallanvuo, tel. +358 40 489 3448