Online meeting for European food safety project | Food Safety News


Editor’s note: This article, Part 2 of 2, summarizes oral and poster presentations from a three-day  meeting of the One Health European Joint Program.

A European project involving foodborne zoonoses research held its annual meeting virtually recently because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The second annual scientific meeting of the One Health European Joint Program (OHEJP) on foodborne zoonoses, antimicrobial resistance and emerging threats was planned for Prague in the Czech Republic, but the outbreak meant the in-person part was cancelled.

Organizers decided to host the meeting online with oral and poster presentations. Read part one of this article summarizing these presentations from the three-day event.

Oral presentations
Gina M. Duggan of Teagasc, investigated the shedding dynamics of Shiga-toxin producing E. coli (STEC).

Ireland has the highest rate of human STEC cases in the EU. The study evaluated STEC shedding in Irish sheep and examined potential risk factors underpinning shedding dynamics, as well as STEC serogroups, O157 and O26. Results found low levels of O157 and O26 super shedders in sheep for slaughter but a high level of STEC carriage overall.

Gianni Lo Iacono, of the University of Surrey, presented information on how the weather impacts Campylobacteriosis, as seasonality is poorly understood.

Using data from England and Wales, steep increases in incidence in early summer and inter-annual variations were associated with temperature, relative humidity, and day length. Risk was highest for relative humidity between 75 to 80 percent and maximum temperature 14 to 16 degrees C (57 to 61 degrees F).

Marieke Opsteegh of RIVM talked about a literature review to summarize studies from Europe on Toxoplasma gondii source attribution.

Expert elicitation indicated food as a more important source than soil and water. Quantitative risk assessments only addressed meatborne transmission. In patient reports, presumed sources were well water, contact with cats, unpasteurized goat milk, and different types of undercooked meat, however strong evidence for the most probable source was generally lacking.

The “TOXOSOURCES” project will perform a multi-country quantitative risk assessment, including both meatborne and environmental exposure to Toxoplasma gondii.

Poster presentations
Anna Czubkowska, from the National Veterinary Research Institute in Poland, assessed the occurrence of bacterial foodborne pathogens in raw cow’s milk in the country.

A total of 100 samples of raw cow bulk-tank milk from different dairy farms was collected in 2019. Yersinia enterocolitica was found in 24 percent of tested samples. Listeria monocytogenes was detected in 14 percent of tests. Campylobacter jejuni at 4 percent and one isolate of E. coli O157 were also identified.

Kathrin Hauser, from the Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety, investigated the Klebsiella pneumoniae colonization of six healthy people during one year by analyzing one stool sample per week. In total 80 Klebsiella pneumoniae isolates from five participants were obtained.

Two individuals shared identical Klebsiella pneumoniae subtypes several times. This highlights the potential role of food as a reservoir to humans, as shared meals could be identified between the two participants in the corresponding time frame.

Violeta Di Marzio, from IZSAM in Italy, looked at multi-drug resistant (MDR) Klebsiella pneumoniae in chicken legs, ready to eat (RTE) salads, and carrots.

A total of 60 samples of chicken legs, RTE salads and carrots purchased in different retailers were examined. Ten Klebsiella pneumoniae strains were isolated in RTE salads, 54 strains detected in chicken legs and four in carrots. The percentage of MDR strains in chicken legs was significantly higher than the other sample types.

Exchanging signals of zoonotic events in Europe was the subject of a poster by Maria Nöremark, from the National Veterinary Institute in Sweden.

Sharing signals of zoonotic events early may be key to understand that separate cases are part of an outbreak and ensure that sectors such as public health, food safety and animal health at relevant local, regional, central or international levels become involved.

Notifiable diseases reporting is regulated but for some endemic or emerging pathogens and events other factors may trigger a signal, such as an unexpected increase of cases.

In six countries, interviews were held with professionals who receive and share signals of potential zoonotic events. Preliminary findings show informal contacts were very important and knowing someone in person facilitates signaling. A fear of overreaction from other sectors was described when signals were shared anonymously. Well-functioning and non-user-friendly computerized systems were described, as were legal barriers for sharing data.

A poster by Thomas Haverkamp, of the Norwegian Veterinary institute, explained detection of Campylobacter in broiler production using metagenomic analysis of air samples. Results showed that Campylobacter detection was feasible using shotgun metagenomics of air filter samples.

Laura C. Gonzalez Villeta, of the University of Surrey, had a poster on understanding the association between the most influential weather parameters – except temperature – and incidence of salmonellosis. Understanding why Salmonella incidence is conditioned to certain weather variables would have practical public health applications. Researchers will use models and develop a tool to predict likelihood of infection based on known weather variations prior to an infection occurring.

Pikka Jokelainen, from SSI in Denmark, is part of the TOXOSOURCES project on the parasite Toxoplasma gondii that runs until 2022. The consortium will look at the contributions of different sources, such as meat and ready-to-eat fresh produce, of Toxoplasma gondii infection to get the most robust estimates possible to inform risk managers and policy makers.

A poster from Beata Lachtara, of the National Veterinary Research Institute, gave an overview of Listeria monocytogenes isolated from food and associated production environments in Poland.

The 138 Listeria strains tested were collected during 2013 to 2019 from RTE food, raw meat and production environments across Poland. Results showed the population structure of Listeria was diverse. Seven different sequence types were identified among the tested strains that were grouped into three clonal complexes.

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