• Variation in the quality of meat from Irish steers at the time of slaughter.

      Moloney, Aidan P; Mullen, Anne Maria; Maher, S.C.; Buckley, D.J.; Kerry, J.P. (Teagasc, 01/01/2004)
      There is no information on the variation in quality, in particular tenderness, that exists in Irish Beef nor is there information on the variation that would remain if optimum practices were imposed at all stages of the beef production chain. Evaluation of the success of measures to improve beef consistency requires information on existing variation and the minimum variation achievable.The objectives of this project were (i) to establish the variation that exists in the quality of meat from Irish cattle, (ii) to quantify the minimum variation in meat quality that can be achieved in a practical beef production system, (iii) to determine the effects and mechanisms of additional sources of variation. The conclusions from this project are: • The M. longissimus dorsi (loin) was found to be more variable than the M. semimembranosus (topside) for most quality attributes examined (tenderness, sarcomere length and pH). The scale of variation within the loin was similar to that reported by the other research groups within the EU and US. Heifers were more variable than steers for most attributes, while there was no consistent classification effect on the variability of meat quality attributes. • Tenderness was equally variable in meat from genetically similar steers, managed similarly, compared to commercial steers randomly selected from a factory lairage but matched for weight and grade.This was likely a result of both groups being crossbred beef cattle of similar age, fat score, carcass weight and managed identically post-mortem. However, variation in tenderness of both groups was less than that observed in a survey of commercial throughput (experiment 1). This decrease is attributed to better pre-and-post-slaughter handling practices. • The data suggest that selection of sires (within a breed) with better than average conformation has no deleterious effect on the eating quality of beef of their progeny.A more comprehensive comparison of sires within a breed and between breeds is required to confirm the generality of this conclusion. • In a comparison of genotypes, gender and slaughter weights, there was no evidence that variation around the mean value for tenderness differed between breeds or liveweights after 14 days ageing. Bulls were more variable than steers for some quality traits but the variation in tenderness was similar for bulls and steers after 14 days ageing. • While optimising the management of animals during the pre and post-slaughter period reduced variation in tenderness, some residual variation remained. A large percentage of the residual variation in tenderness (Warner Bratzler shear force) after 2 and 7 days post-mortem was explained by proteolysis (breakdown of myofibrillar proteins).Variation in tenderness (Warner Bratzler shear force) after 2 days post-mortem was largely explained by phosphates (energy) and proteolysis, while sensory tenderness was largely explained by phosphates and glycolytic potential. • Further work is required to reduce residual variation in Irish beef and to determine the causes of this variation.
    • Molecular Characterisation of Bacteriophage K Towards Applications for the Biocontrol of Pathogenic Staphylococci

      O’Flaherty, Sarah; Flynn, Jimmy; Coffey, Aidan; Fitzgerald, Gerald; Meaney, William J; Ross, R Paul (Teagasc, 01/01/2006)
      The aim of this work was to characterise staphylococcal bacteriophage (a bacterial virus) and to assess their potential as therapeutic agents against pathogenic strains of Staphylococcus aureus, particularly mastitis-causing strains. The project included the use of two newly isolated phage CS1 and DW2, and an existing polyvalent phage. The new phage were isolated from the farmyard and characterised by electron microscopy and restriction analysis. Both phage were shown to belong to the Siphoviridae family and were lytic for representatives of all three clonal groups of Irish mastitis-associated staphylococci. A cocktail of three phage (CS1, DW2 and K) at 108 (plaque forming units) PFU/ml was infused into cows teats in animal trials. The lack of an increase in somatic cell counts in milks indicated strongly that the phage did not irritate the animal. In addition, the most potent phage used in this study, phage K, was further studied by genome sequencing, which revealed a linear DNA genome of 127,395 base pairs, which encodes 118 putative ORFs (open reading frames).
    • Farm management factors associated with bulk tank total bacterial count in Irish dairy herds during 2006/07

      Kelly, PT; O'Sullivan, K; Berry, Donagh P.; More, Simon J; Meaney, William J; O'Callaghan, Edmond J; O'Brien, Bernadette (Biomed Central, 01/01/2009)
      Research has shown that total bacterial count (TBC), which is the bacterial growth per ml of milk over a fixed period of time, can be decreased by good hygiene and farm management practices. The objective of the current study was to quantify the associations between herd management factors and bulk tank TBC in Irish spring calving, grass-based dairy herds. The relationship between bulk tank TBC and farm management and infrastructure was examined using data from 400 randomly selected Irish dairy farms where the basal diet was grazed grass. Herd management factors associated with bulk tank TBC were identified using linear models with herd annual total bacterial score (i.e., arithmetic mean of the natural logarithm of bulk tank TBC) included as the dependent variable. All herd management factors were individually analysed in a separate regression model, that included an adjustment for geographical location of the farm. A multiple stepwise regression model was subsequently developed. Median bulk tank TBC for the sample herds was 18,483 cells/ml ranging from 10,441 to 130,458 cells/ml. Results from the multivariate analysis indicated that the following management practices were associated with low TBC; use of heated water in the milking parlour; participation in a milk recording scheme; and tail clipping of cows at a frequency greater than once per year. Increased level of hygiene of the parlour and cubicles were also associated with lower TBC. Herd management factors associated with bulk tank TBC in Irish grazing herds were generally in agreement with most previous studies from confinement systems of milk production.
    • A study on the use of chilling as a critical control point in a beef HACCP plan

      Kinsella, Kathleen; Sheridan, James J.; Rowe, T.; Downey, Gerard; National Development Plan (NDP) (Teagasc, 01/02/2006)
      Investigations were undertaken to establish the critical limits for use of chilling in a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) system for beef. Information was obtained on the influence of chilling on the survival of bacteria, including the pathogen Salmonella Typhimurium DT104, attached to beef carcass surfaces. In general, a chilling regime could not be identified that gave consistent and meaningful reductions in surface bacterial counts while not seriously compromising the quality of the carcasses in terms of excessive amounts of weight loss. The study concluded that chilling was not a satisfactory process for use as a critical control point (CCP) in beef chilling and could not be recommended to the Irish beef industry for inclusion in a HACCP plan.
    • Adding Value To Under utilised Fish Species

      Fagan, John; Gormley, Ronan T.; Mitchell, Michelle; Downey, Gerard; National Development Plan (NDP) (Teagasc, 01/02/2006)
      Tightening fish quotas and supply shortages for conventional species are causing major difficulties for both fishermen and seafood processors. There is a need, therefore, to explore the potential of underutilised fish species both as fillets or portions and as added-value products. The current project at Ashtown Food Research Centre (AFRC) addressed this issue for a number of underutilised species via (a) sous vide processing (with savoury sauces),(b)marinating (salt- and sugar-based marinades) and (c) via a combination of freeze-chilling and modified atmosphere packaging (MAP).A range of physico-chemical and sensory tests was conducted on the products and their shelf-life status was also determined.
    • Surface decontamination of meat using thermal processes

      McCann, Máiréad S; Sheridan, James J.; Downey, Gerard; European Union (Teagasc, 01/02/2007)
      This study investigated the effectiveness of a novel heat apparatus for decontamination of meat surfaces inoculated with important foodborne pathogens using either steam or dry air.
    • A Risk Assessment and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) Study for the Irish Catering Industry

      Bolton, Declan J.; Meally, Aisling; Downey, Gerard; Safefood (Teagasc, 01/02/2007)
      This report provides details of a food safety knowledge survey, a microbiological survey, a chilled temperature survey and an audit conducted in 200 restaurants throughout the island of Ireland. The results suggest a low incidence of several bacterial pathogens (including Salmonella enterica) and identify areas in which food safety knowledge, procedures and practices should be improved. Salmonella enterica isolates were characterised and the results suggested distinct pockets of different serotypes. Growth curves for L. monocytogenes isolates suggest considerably reduced shelf-life for a variety of foods. For example, lettuce should not be stored at room temperature or the shelf-life is reduced from 6.5 days (chilled storage) to 3.3 days.The predicted shelf-life for fresh milk was 4.5 days (chilled storage). Chlorine (sodium hypochlorite, 5 ppm), 1-monolauroyl-rac-glycerol and a laurate ester (ester-glucoside laurate) were also tested for application as vegetable decontaminating agents in restaurant kitchens. The report concludes with recommendations for improved food safety and hygiene in Irish restaurants.
    • Recovery and identification of emerging Campylobacteraceae from food

      Duffy, Geraldine; Cagney, Claire; Lynch, Orla; Downey, Gerard (Teagasc, 01/02/2007)
      The family Campylobacteraceae includes 23 different species of Campylobacter and Arcobacter.To date, clinical and epidemiological interest has focused almost exclusively on just two of these species, C. jejuni and C. coli. Current routine examination methods for both clinical and food samples look exclusively for these two species. Recent clinical research indicates that some of the other, previously ignored Campylobacter species may be linked to human infection. The focus of this research was to develop a routine procedure which would allow recovery of all 23 species of Campylobacteraceae from food samples.
    • The Development and/or Validation of Novel Intervention Technologies to Assure Meat Food Safety

      Bolton, Declan J.; Byrne, Brian; Lyng, James; Downey, Gerard; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; Food Safety Authority of Ireland (Teagasc, 01/02/2007)
      This project was undertaken to fill some of the knowledge gaps in meat food safety from farm to fork. The data provide the scientific basis for a clean sheep policy to reduce the impact of fleece as a source of microbial contamination on ovine carcasses at the beginning of the slaughter process. At the other end of the slaughter-line, a polyurethane sponge swabbing technology was developed for ovine and bovine carcass sampling as required in 2001/471/EC and the new European Commission Hygiene Regulations. At the processing stages, studies were undertaken to determine the most effective media for the recovery and culture of Cl. perfringens cells and spores; the results were then applied to thermal inactivation studies on these bacteria. Thermal resistance data were also obtained for Bacillus cereus and a radio frequency cook for meat products was validated in terms of the destruction of Cl. perfringens and B. cereus cells and spores. Finally, an aerobiology study investigated the effectiveness of a range on measures to prevent air acting as a vector for bacterial dispersion in a meat processing plant.
    • Overview of Seafood Research at Ashtown Food Research Centre (1990 - 2007)

      Gormley, Ronan T.; Downey, Gerard (Teagasc, 01/02/2008)
      In recent years, the Irish seafood industry has faced stringent quotas and dwindling fish stocks. The introduction of fish farming added a new dimension but falling prices also created difficulties for this sector. However, the recent report of the Seafood Industry Strategy Group on ‘Steering a New Course’ and the Sea Change Programme of the Marine Institute will add new impetus to the industry. The current report summarises R&D on seafood conducted at Ashtown Food Research Centre (AFRC) in the period 1990-2007 and represents a major portion of seafood R&D conducted nationally during that period.
    • In vivo activity of Nisin A and Nisin V against Listeria monocytogenes in mice

      Campion, Alicia; Casey, Patrick G.; Field, Des; Cotter, Paul D.; Hill, Colin; Ross, R Paul; Programme for Research in Third-Level Institutions; Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology; Enterprise Ireland; Science Foundation Ireland (Biomed Central, 01/02/2013)
      Background: Lantibiotics are post-translationally modified antimicrobial peptides, of which nisin A is the most extensively studied example. Bioengineering of nisin A has resulted in the generation of derivatives with increased in vitro potency against Gram-positive bacteria. Of these, nisin V (containing a Met21Val change) is noteworthy by virtue of exhibiting enhanced antimicrobial efficacy against a wide range of clinical and food-borne pathogens, including Listeria monocytogenes. However, this increased potency has not been tested in vivo. Results: Here we address this issue by assessing the ability of nisin A and nisin V to control a bioluminescent strain of Listeria monocytogenes EGDe in a murine infection model. More specifically, Balb/c mice were infected via the intraperitoneal route at a dose of 1 × 105 cfu/animal and subsequently treated intraperitoneally with either nisin V, nisin A or a PBS control. Bioimaging of the mice was carried out on day 3 of the trial. Animals were then sacrificed and levels of infection were quantified in the liver and spleen. Conclusion: This analysis revealed that nisin V was more effective than Nisin A with respect to controlling infection and therefore merits further investigation with a view to potential chemotherapeutic applications.
    • Near Infrared Spectroscopy in the Food Industry: A Tool of Quality Management.

      Downey, Gerard (Teagasc, 01/03/1999)
      Near infrared (NIR) spectroscopy is a rapid, non-destructive analytical technique which has been used in the food and agriculture industries for almost 20 years. Ireland was one of the first countries in the world to adopt this method for national trading purposes and the grain trade has used it for off-farm and in-process analysis since 1981. However, other sectors have been slower to realise its potential and as part of a process of demonstrating the role which it may play in monitoring quality in a range of food industry applications, a programme of research and development has been on-going within Teagasc and its predecessor An Foras Talúntais. NIR spectroscopy provides the food processor with information. This information may describe how much of a given substance is present in a mixture or how the overall quality of the substance compares to a reference material e.g. a previous batch of raw material, finished goods or a competitor’s product. This report provides some examples of precompetitive R&D on representative qualitative and quantitative problems in a range of foods and food ingredients. The use of NIR spectra collected within 24 hours of slaughter to predict beef tenderness 14 days later shows considerable promise. Non-destructive monitoring of flesh composition in farmed salmon has paved the way for the efficient use of expensive feed materials while the content of each species in binary mixtures of minced beef and lamb has been accurate enough to suggest the use of NIR spectroscopy as a rapid screening tool by regulatory agencies, food processors and retailers. Classification of a range of food ingredients (including skim milk powder and flour) into one of a number of functionally-discrete categories has been successfully achieved with levels of accuracy high enough to warrant immediate industry utilisation i.e. greater than 90% for skim milk powders and 97% in the case of flour. Species confirmation in a number of raw minced meats (chicken, turkey, pork, beef and lamb) has been achieved with over 90% accuracy in feasibility studies. Calibrations transferred from one NIR instrument to another lose accuracy because of differences in instrument construction, sample presentation and other factors. A research effort has recently been applied to this problem of transferability and results are available for both scanning and fixed filter instruments. The success achieved opens the way for using NIR results obtained in different companies or countries as an uncontested basis for trade.
    • Model System for the Production of Enzyme Modified Cheese (EMC) Flavours.

      Kilcawley, Kieran N; Beresford, Tom; Lee, B.; Wilkinson, M.G.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; Irish Dairy Levy Research Trust (Teagasc, 01/04/2002)
      Natural cheese flavour ingredients, in the form of enzyme modified cheeses (EMCs), are widely used in the convenience food industry and can provide high volume added opportunities for the cheese industry. Many EMCs are produced using commercial enzyme preparations and previous studies have indicated that they contain side activities in addition to their stated main activity (see DPRC Report No.10). Therefore, it is critical that the exact enzyme complement of these preparations are known before they can be used to produce EMC of specific requirements on a consistent basis. The scientific basis of rapid enzyme mediated flavour formation in the production of EMCs is not fully understood. Consequently this knowledge gap is a major obstacle in the development of high value cheese flavour ingredients. Hence, a major objective of this project was to deepen the scientific understanding of flavour formation with a view to the production of natural enzyme-mediated dairy flavour ingredients with commercial potential. The ultimate aim was to develop the technology to produce customised high value dairy flavour ingredients in an optimised process.
    • Supply Chains Linking Food SMEs in Lagging Rural Regions in Ireland

      Henchion, Maeve; McIntyre, Bridin; Meredith, David; Downey, Gerard; European Commission; QLK5-CT-2000-00841 (Teagasc, 01/04/2005)
      This report reflects the Irish contribution to a 3-year EU-funded research project, SUPPLIERS, which was concerned with the development, innovation, competitiveness and sustainability of food SMEs in lagging rural regions(LRRs) of the EU and Poland. It summarises the results of the research conducted in Ireland, evaluates these findings and makes recommendations to benefit food SMEs located in Ireland’s LRRs. Two regions were selected for study in Ireland. These were the West, comprising counties Galway, Mayo and Roscommon, and the Northwest, comprising counties Donegal, Sligo and Leitrim. Both are classified as Objective 1 regions reflecting their predominantly rural character, economic disadvantage and relative remoteness from urban centres. Three food products were selected for detailed study in each region. Products selected in the West were mushrooms, farmed salmon and speciality foods and, in the Northwest, organic produce, farmed shellfish and prepared consumer foods. This product range encompassed a range of chains from local to international, integrated to fragmented, direct to indirect, providing a basis for comparison and evaluation of different chain structures. This summary report concentrates on the results of four surveys carried out over the course of the study. Producers, intermediaries, commercial customers and support institutions were surveyed.
    • Farm management factors associated with bulk tank somatic cell count in Irish dairy herds

      Kelly, PT; O'Sullivan, K; Berry, Donagh P.; More, Simon J; Meaney, William J; O'Callaghan, Edmond J; O'Brien, Bernadette (Biomed Central, 01/04/2009)
      The relationship between bulk tank somatic cell count (SCC) and farm management and infrastructure was examined using data from 398 randomly selected, yet representative, Irish dairy farms where the basal diet is grazed grass. Median bulk tank SCC for the farms was 282,887 cells/ml ranging from 82,209 to 773,028 cells/ml. Two questionnaires were administered through face-to-face contact with each farmer. Herd-level factors associated with bulk tank SCC were determined using linear models with annual somatic cell score (i.e., arithmetic mean of the natural logarithm of bulk tank SCC) included as the dependent variable. All herd level factors were analysed individually in separate regression models, which included an adjustment for geographical location of the farm; a multiple regression model was subsequently developed. Management practices associated with low SCC included the use of dry cow therapy, participation in a milk recording scheme and the use of teat disinfection post-milking. There was an association between low SCC and an increased level of hygiene and frequency of cleaning of the holding yard, passageways and cubicles. Herd management factors associated with bulk tank SCC in Irish grazing herds are generally in agreement with most previous studies from confinement systems of milk production.
    • Lactobacillus ruminis strains cluster according to their mammalian gut source

      O’Donnell, Michelle M.; Harris, Hugh M B; Lynch, Denise B; Ross, R Paul; O’Toole, Paul W.; Science Foundation Ireland; 07/IN.1/B1780 (Biomed Central, 01/04/2015)
      Background Lactobacillus ruminis is a motile Lactobacillus that is autochthonous to the human gut, and which may also be isolated from other mammals. Detailed characterization of L. ruminis has previously been restricted to strains of human and bovine origin. We therefore sought to expand our bio-bank of strains to identify and characterise isolates of porcine and equine origin by comparative genomics. Results We isolated five strains from the faeces of horses and two strains from pigs, and compared their motility, biochemistry and genetic relatedness to six human isolates and three bovine isolates including the type strain 27780T. Multilocus sequence typing analysis based on concatenated sequence data for six individual loci separated the 16 L. ruminis strains into three clades concordant with human, bovine or porcine, and equine sources. Sequencing the genomes of four additional strains of human, bovine, equine and porcine origin revealed a high level of genome synteny, independent of the source animal. Analysis of carbohydrate utilization, stress survival and technological robustness in a combined panel of sixteen L. ruminis isolates identified strains with optimal survival characteristics suitable for future investigation as candidate probiotics. Under laboratory conditions, six human isolates of L. ruminis tested were aflagellate and non-motile, whereas all 10 strains of bovine, equine and porcine origin were motile. Interestingly the equine and porcine strains were hyper-flagellated compared to bovine isolates, and this hyper-flagellate phenotype correlated with the ability to swarm on solid medium containing up to 1.8% agar. Analysis by RNA sequencing and qRT-PCR identified genes for the biosynthesis of flagella, genes for carbohydrate metabolism and genes of unknown function that were differentially expressed in swarming cells of an equine isolate of L. ruminis. Conclusions We suggest that Lactobacillus ruminis isolates have potential to be used in the functional food industry. We have also identified a MLST scheme able to distinguish between strains of L. ruminis of different origin. Genes for non-digestible oligosaccharide metabolism were identified with a putative role in swarming behaviour.
    • Composition of the early intestinal microbiota: Knowledge, knowledge gaps and the use of high-throughput sequencing to address these gaps

      Fouhy, Fiona; Ross, R Paul; Fitzgerald, Gerald F; Stanton, Catherine; Cotter, Paul D.; Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; Science Foundation Ireland; 11/PI/1137 (Landes Bioscience, 01/05/2012)
      The colonization, development and maturation of the newborn gastrointestinal tract that begins immediately at birth and continues for two years, is modulated by numerous factors including mode of delivery, feeding regime, maternal diet/weight, probiotic and prebiotic use and antibiotic exposure pre-, peri- and post-natally. While in the past, culture-based approaches were used to assess the impact of these factors on the gut microbiota, these have now largely been replaced by culture-independent DNA-based approaches and most recently, high-throughput sequencing-based forms thereof. The aim of this review is to summarize recent research into the modulatory factors that impact on the acquisition and development of the infant gut microbiota, to outline the knowledge recently gained through the use of culture-independent techniques and, in particular, highlight advances in high-throughput sequencing and how these technologies have, and will continue to, fill gaps in our knowledge with respect to the human intestinal microbiota.
    • The Formation of an Anti-Cancer Complex Under Simulated Gastric Conditions

      Sullivan, Louise M.; Mok, K.Hun; Brodkorb, Andre; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology); 08RDTMFRC650; FA 1005 (Springer-Verlag, 01/05/2013)
      A potent anti-cancer complex has previously been formed from two major components of milk. Human/bovine α-lactalbumin made lethal to tumour cells (H/BAMLET) is a protein–fatty acid complex that has been produced using the whey protein α-lactalbumin (α-LA) and the fatty acid oleic acid (OA). It was shown that it possesses selective anti-tumour and anti-microbial activity, which was first identified in acidic fractions of human breast milk. The aim of this study was to determine whether the two components would form a bioactive complex during simulated gastric (GI) transit. Results showed that a complex consisting of α-LA and OA is formed as the protein unfolds under acidic conditions and subsequently refolds upon pH increase. Analysis of this complex using Nuclear Magnetic Resonance and Fourier Transform Infra-Red (FTIR) spectroscopies estimated a stoichiometry of 4.1 and 4.4 oleic acids per mole of protein, respectively. FTIR and fluorescence spectroscopies showed that the structure was similar to that of BAMLET. Cytotoxicity testing against cancer cell line U937 cells showed that the complex had an LC50 value of 14.08 μM compared to 9.15 μM for BAMLET. These findings suggest that a BAMLET-like complex may be formed under the tested in vitro GI conditions.
    • Irish Domestic Food Safety Knowledge, Practice and Microbiology with Particular Emphasis on Staphylococcus aureus

      Bolton, Declan J.; Kennedy, Jean; Cowan, Cathal; Safefood (Teagasc, 01/06/2005)
      This study examined consumer food safety knowledge on the island of Ireland. Domestic refrigerators were tested for the presence of a range of pathogenic bacteria. The effect of refrigerated storage on the antibiotic resistance and thermal resistance of S . aureus were also investigated. Irish consumers displayed a considerable lack of knowledge about correct refrigeration temperatures and proper hygiene procedures to prevent crosscontamination in the kitchen. Domestic refrigerators were contaminated with a range of bacterial pathogens including S . aureus (41%), S almonella spp. (7%), E scherichia. coli (6%), L isteria monocytogenes (6%) and Y ersinia enterocolitica (2%).
    • Food Authentication using Infrared Spectroscopic Methods

      Downey, Gerard; Kelly, J. Daniel (Teagasc, 01/06/2006)
      Confirmation of the authenticity of a food or food ingredient is an increasing challenge for food processors and regulatory authorities. This is especially the case when an added-value claim, such as one relating to geographic origin or a particular processing history, is made on the food label. Regulatory agencies are concerned with the prevention of economic fraud while the food processor needs confirmation of such claims in order to protect a brand, the image of which could be severely damaged should an adulterated ingredient make its way into the branded food product.To be of greatest value, any analytical tool deployed to confirm authenticity claims needs to be portable, easy to use, non-destructive and accurate. Infrared spectroscopy, near and mid-infrared, is a tool which has been demonstrated to possess these properties in a wide range of situations.While some applications in food authenticity have been reported, the work undertaken in this project was designed to explore their capabilities regarding a number of products and authenticity issues of particular interest to the Irish agri-food industry i.e. olive oil, honey, soft fruit purées and apple juice.