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Trends in foodborne disease and implications for the dairy industry

Authors: Michael J. Eyles


Our understanding of the microbiology of milk and dairy products continues to evolve rapidly. The magnitude of the advances is illustrated well by some of the changes that have taken place since an International Dairy Congress was last held in Melbourne in 1970. Dairy microbiologists were not concerned with Listeria monocytogenes two decades ago, nor had they heard of Escherichia coli 0157. Pathogens were not considered capable of growth in correctly refrigerated dairy products. Ingestion of a large number of cells of Salmonella was believed necessary to cause foodborne illness. As a result of these changes the food industry must deal with a much wider range of microbiological hazards with important consequences for both the day-to-day maintenance of existing processes and the development of new products and processes. We have no reason to believe that this process of change will not continue during the next two decades. Scientific ressearch and the development of new quality management techniques have enabled the industry to respond the new hazards effectively. HACCP is a well established component of the dairy industry's quality management systems, providing improved control of all microbiological hazard. The continuing development of sophisticated laboratory assays for antigens and nucleic acid sequences is providing more rapid, sensitive and reliable methods for detecting pathogens in environmental samples and products.

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