Health risks of food-borne bacterial infections and tracing the Finnish cases

Aims

In this project, which is part of the Research Programme on Nutrition, Foods and Health (ELVIRA) of the Academy of Finland, we are studying the most important food-borne bacteria that are a public health risk to the consumer, and we are tracing especially the sources of salmonella and EHEC infections.

The project consists of three parts:
1) a retrospective register research,
2) a prospective, progressive population based study,
3) risk assessment

In the retrospective register research the long-term effects of salmonella, campylobacter, shigella, yersinia and EHEC infections found since 1995 are assessed. Their significance as to later morbidity and mortality rates of the population is studied especially. In the prospective study the sources of salmonella and EHEC infections of domestic origin are traced in real time as a case control study. The characteristics of the bacterial strains isolated from humans, animals and food are studied very carefully and comparisons between the strains are made. In addition, more intensive sampling is carried out on suspect foods. In this way the most common sources and routes of infection of the bacteria can be assessed. Finally a new method based on a quantitative mathematical model will be developed to be used for the purpose of risk assessment. The model will combine the results achieved using new laboratory techniques, information from the register on infectious diseases, information on food-borne epidemics and food production, and assesses the exposure of the Finnish consumer to salmonella or EHEC infection transmitted through food in Finland and the magnitude of the risk salmonella or EHEC incurs to the consumer.

The information on the effect of food-borne infections in the near past gives the opportunity to assess the effect of new, preventive actions and the cost-benefit relationship. The results of the project can be used both in the industry, food inspection and in health care. The method to be developed in the study is also suited for the risk assessment of other food-borne pathogens.

Keywords

food poisoning, salmonella, EHEC, risk assessment, assessment of exposure, risk estimate, salmonella bacteria

Responsible project leader

Research Professor Anja Siitonen, National Public Health Institute, Enteric Bacteria Laboratory

Person at Evira responsible for the project

Professor Sinikka Pelkonen, Veterinary Bacteriology Research Unit

Additional information on the project

Special researcher Pirkko Tuominen, Evira, Risk Assessment Research Unit

In cooperation with

THL National Institute for Health and Welfare

Project status

Previous

Year of commencement

2007

Year of completion

2011

Project is financed by

Academy of Finland;
Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry

Evira's project code

8226