Birgitte Moen and Annette Fagerlund are working on the latest generation of DNA analysis tools, like this MinION portable DNA sequencer.

Project Year 2018

Know your bacteria

 Food safety and quality  

The latest innovation in DNA analysis makes it easier to identify bacteria, allowing better control over product quality.

“By identifying the bacteria on the raw materials and processing equipment, we can locate contamination sources of spoilage bacteria and take actions to prevent problems”, says Nofima scientist Birgitte Moen. She works with DNA sequencing of bacterial communities, and the methods she uses make it possible to identify bacteria without having to resort to cultivation, paving the way for new possibilities. For example, the spoilage bacterium Photobacterium thrives in cold water and is therefore common on fish. DNA sequencing makes identification of this traditionally hard-tofind bacterium much easier.

Important to know both which and how many

Using DNA sequencing of bacterial communities and classic microbiology, Nofima scientists have mapped the types and number of bacteria found on fish and processing equipment at two fish processing plants. “When we analyse fresh, processed fish, we find a number of different bacteria. These bacteria come from the raw material, i.e. the living fish, but also from environments the raw material has been exposed to,” explains senior scientist Solveig Langsrud. Most bacteria do not affect the taste and smell of the product. The three most common spoilage bacteria for fish are Photobacterium, Shewanella and Pseudomonas. DNA analysis allows you to look at the entire bacterial flora in one analysis, not just the strains that dominate or are cultivable.

DNA sequencing technology for optimal process control

DNA sequencing is developing at a furious rate, and equipment is getting ever smaller, cheaper, faster and more robust, enabling more potential applications in the food industry. However, more research is still needed. “We need more knowledge to optimize the use of DNA sequencing technology in the food industry,” concludes Birgitte Moen.

The Norwegian Seafood Federation

FFL and TKVDN (Technical Committee for Cleaning and Disinfection Agents for the Food Industry)

More useful research results