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Germs in food - food-borne infections and how to prevent them

23/2023, 08.11.2023

Symposium on zoonoses and food safety at the BfR

One of the most common sources of food-borne infections is chicken meat contaminated with Salmonella or Campylobacter pathogens. How these pathogens can be reduced in the barn and further along the food chain to the consumer is one of the central topics at a symposium on zoonoses and food safety, which the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is organising in Berlin-Marienfelde on 16 and 17 November 2023. "The number of reported illnesses caused by foodborne infections alone in Germany amounts to around one hundred thousand per year, and the number of unreported cases is likely to be much higher," says Professor Dr Karsten Nöckler, Head of the Biological Safety Division at the BfR. "In order to combat such infections effectively, we need to know where the germs come from, at which point in the production process the food is contaminated and, of course, how this can be prevented."

In a joint project funded by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL), researchers are investigating whether the bacterial load of chicken meat can be reduced using thermal processes. Tests show that even a short immersion in hot water (> 70 degrees Celsius) reduces the number of Salmonella and Campylobacter by an order of magnitude. Treatments with icy air - at minus 90 degrees Celsius - also reduce the Campylobacter load. The scientists, who will present their findings at the symposium, conclude that such thermal processes can usefully supplement existing measures to reduce the microbiological load.

Other topics include the control of Vibrio spp. in aquaculture and the occurrence of infectious agents in wild animals. The scientific contributions are of particular interest against the background of the current zoonosis monitoring report, which will also be presented at the conference and will highlight current developments in the fight against foodborne infections.

Presentations by scientists from other institutions in Germany and Europe, for example on insects as food, E. coli bacteria in flour and the hygienic aspects of taking food from containers, round off the wide range of topics covered at the event.  

The two-day symposium is aimed at interested parties from scientific institutions, investigation offices, monitoring authorities and industry from German-speaking countries. In addition to scientific training, it is also intended to promote networking between participants and thus co-operation between the various institutions. For this reason, the conference will be organised exclusively as a face-to-face event.

You can find the programme and a registration form here:

Journalists are cordially invited to attend. Please register in advance at




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