Mince under the microscope

Published Tuesday, 29th January 2019 in Research news

Mince under the microscope
The project will study 1,000 mince samples from retail outlets across Scotland

An extensive scientific survey among Scottish supermarkets and butchers aims to determine the prevalence of bacteria such as "E. coli" and "Salmonella" in mince.

In the first such survey of fresh beef mince at retail level in Scotland, the year-long project will study 1,000 samples from retail outlets across the country. 

The project team hope this will allow them to identify any possible seasonal or geographical patterns associated with microbial contamination.

Commissioned by Food Standards Scotland (FSS) and led by SRUC, the survey will generate an up-to-date evidence base that provides estimates of the prevalence of microbiological pathogens that can cause disease, such as E. coli O157. It will also provide estimates of the prevalence of hygiene indicator bacteria and the presence of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

Led by scientists from SRUC’s Epidemiology Research Unit in Inverness, the survey will involve three Scientific Services Laboratories, two Scottish Microbiological Reference Laboratories as well as input from the Food-Borne Pathogens Group at the University of Aberdeen.

Dr Marianne James from Food Standards Scotland said: “The results of this survey will help provide evidence on the microbiological quality of mince on retail sale in Scotland. We will be able to use this information to help businesses and consumers control these risks. Any contamination of mince shouldn’t however present a risk to consumers as long as it hygienically handled and cooked thoroughly.”  

The sampling programme will take place between January and December 2019, with a report due to be published next year. 

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