Photo: Mikkel Adsbøl

Combating disease-causing microorganisms for decades

Wednesday 30 Nov 16

Contact

Dorte Lau Baggesen
Head of Division
National Food Institute
+45 35 88 62 07

Contact

Frank Møller Aarestrup
Professor, Head of Research Group
National Food Institute
+45 35 88 62 81

Denmark has a high level of food safety, yet every year disease-causing microorganisms in food cause illness in a significant number of Danes. For more than 30 years, the National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark, has played a key role in preventing consumers from getting sick from the food they eat. The institute has done so e.g. by developing strategies to keep bacteria and viruses out of food, monitoring the presence of bacteria and antimicrobial resistance, and tracing the sources of disease outbreaks. Read more about this work on the National Food Institute’s special topic portal on disease-causing microorganisms.

Both consumers and society as a whole expect that Danes should be able to eat food available for sale without getting sick. Nonetheless, disease-causing microorganisms in food cause illness in a significant number of Danes every year. 

For more than 30 years the National Food Institute has played a key role in preventing consumers from getting sick from the foods they eat by carrying out research into methods that will keep bacteria and viruses out of foods and by collecting solid data on where in the food chain disease-causing microorganisms are found.

Denmark as a pioneer

Research from the National Food Institute has e.g. helped Denmark become a pioneer in the fight against salmonella in poultry. The incidence of salmonella in broilers and eggs produced in Denmark has been reduced to close to zero over the past 20 years. The success is due to a combination of unique scientific methods and cooperation between authorities, industry and researchers.

The institute also heads up several projects that could lead to a paradigm shift in disease surveillance by increasing the global use of whole genome sequencing– a technique that can quickly and accurately identify disease-causing bacteria’s entire DNA profile simultaneously.

The aim of these projects is to establish a global surveillance system, which can generate knowledge about the mechanisms that are the cause of diseases worldwide, as well as how the bacteria are transferred to and between people. This knowledge can then be used to identify the sources of infectious diseases in humans and to quickly implement targeted initiatives that can save lives and prevent the diseases from spreading – both locally and globally.

Method development

Researchers at the National Food Institute also work to develop new, fast and cost-efficient methods, which can be used to detect bacteria and viruses in foods, feed and primary production. Another area of research is the development of methods to predict the growth, survival and inactivation of disease-causing microorganisms during production, storage and distribution.

Read more

Explore the National Food Institute’s special topic portal on disease-causing microorganisms and read about the institute’s activities and research results in this field. 

On the institute’s website you will also find special topic portals on nutrition and dietary habits, chemical exposure, risk assessments and antimicrobial resistance. More topics will be added over time.

Please fill out this form if you would like to see other topics explained in greater detail on the website www.food.dtu.dk.