Nofima is home to the only process hall in Europe in which the most dangerous food-borne bacteria can be studied in a realistic production environment. Senior scientist Askild Holck describes during the opening ceremony the research that will be carried out in the hall.

Patogen Pilot Plant

The experimental pilot plant is a national centre in Norway, and the first high-security production hall in Europe. Scientists study life-threatening bacteria such as Listeria and E. coli here in a realistic production environment, in order to prevent serious food poisoning.

The safety requirements when producing life-threatening food are extremely strict, and this makes the Pathogen Pilot Plant unique. The hall has been specially designed with respect to air supply, waste water treatment and the destruction of other waste, in order to prevent the spread of infectious material to the surroundings. It is possible here to carry out research into food-borne bacteria that cause diseases during processing, packaging and storage, and to study the effects of washing and disinfection methods.  The scientists add bacteria, investigate how they behave, and – not least – develop methods that ensure safe food.

New variants of bacteria appear all the time. One important task is to increase our knowledge of the ability of bacteria to adapt to different recipes and processes in food production.

Many outbreaks of food-borne disease

A greater degree of globalisation means that food, both raw materials and prepared products, crosses national borders to a higher degree. An increased range of foods available, leads to greater diversity and enjoyment of food, while at the same time increasing the challenges associated with ensuring safe food. Decision-makers, scientists and the food industry must, for this reason, continue to collaborate to guarantee that consumers receive safe food.

The number of outbreaks of food-borne diseases and the number of disease events are increasing, also in Norway. The Norwegian Institute of Public Health received reports of 62 outbreaks and 1,103 disease events in 2013. The corresponding figures for 2012 were 44 outbreaks and 1042 disease events.

The pilot plant provides sorely needed knowledge. We need better and safer methods to eliminate bacteria such as dangerous variants of Listeria bacteria and E. coli from food production.

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