• 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.
    • Adding Value To Under utilised Fish Species

      Fagan, John; Gormley, Ronan T.; Mitchell, Michelle; Downey, Gerard (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.
    • 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 (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.
    • The Development and/or Validation of Novel Intervention Technologies to Assure Meat Food Safety

      Bolton, Declan J.; Byrne, Brian; Lyng, James; Downey, Gerard (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.
    • A Risk Assessment and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) Study for the Irish Catering Industry

      Bolton, Declan J.; Meally, Aisling; Downey, Gerard (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.
    • Surface decontamination of meat using thermal processes

      McCann, Máiréad S; Sheridan, James J.; Downey, Gerard (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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • Developing Sous Vide/Freezing Systems for Ready-Meal omponents

      Tansey, Fergal; Gormley, Ronan T.; Carbonell, Serge; Oliveira, Jorge; Bourke, Paula; O’Beirne, David (Teagasc, 01/04/2005)
      Sous vide cooking involves sealing raw or par-cooked food in a vacuumised laminated plastic pouch or container, cooking by controlled heating, rapid chilling and then re-heating for consumption. The chilled storage period is up to 21 days at 0 to 3oC. The recommended thermal process for sous vide products is 90oC for 10min or its time-temperature equivalent. Concerns about the safety of sous vide products, mainly due to the potential for temperature abuse in the chill chain, has prevented the widespread use of this technology. The role of the current project, therefore, was to investigate sous vide cooking followed by freezing, as a safe alternative to sous vide/chilling for 10 ready-meal components i.e. carbohydrates (potatoes, pasta, rice), vegetables (carrots, broccoli) and muscle foods (salmon, cod, chicken, beef and lamb).
    • 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.
    • The Formation of an Anti-Cancer Complex Under Simulated Gastric Conditions

      Sullivan, Louise M.; Mok, K.Hun; Brodkorb, Andre (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.
    • 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.
    • Second Generation GM Foods: Perspectives on Likely Future Acceptance by Irish Consumers

      O'Connor, Elaine; Cowan, Cathal; Williams, Gwilym; O'Connell, John; Boland, Maurice; Downey, Gerard (Teagasc, 01/07/2005)
      Two hypothetical second-generation genetically-modified (GM) products, a yogurt and a dairy spread, were evaluated by consumers. Second-generation GM food products offer specific consumer benefits - in the case of this study, health benefits.
    • Development of Organic Breads and Confectionery

      Gallagher, Eimear; Keehan, Denise; Butler, Francis; Downey, Gerard (Teagasc, 01/07/2005)
      In recent years, concern for the environment and consumer dissatisfaction with conventional food has led to growing interest in organic farming and food. The demand has also been fuelled by highly-publicised food scares. Food safety and genetic modification issues have led some consumers to opt for organic food as a safer alternative. Recently, there has been a significant increase in the number of launches of organic bakery products in Ireland. As a result, there is an increased need to identify suitable organic bakery ingredients for use in bread and confectionery formulations. However, only a limited number of scientific studies on the physical, chemical and functional properties of organic flours and ingredients exist. The effects of commonly-used ingredients in baking, i.e. organic improvers and fats, on the baking characteristics of organic products have not yet been reported and little is known about the influence of approved additives that may be beneficial to organic baking. Arising from these gaps in the knowledge base on the use of organic flours and ingredients, the objective of this study was to evaluate the chemical, rheological and baking characteristics of white, wholemeal and confectionery organic flours and to assess the baking potential of organic bakery ingredients, in particular improvers, fats and additives. Ingredients and baked goods were compared to non-organic controls.
    • The market potential for in-conversion organic products in Ireland

      Cowan, Cathal; Connolly, Liam; Howlett, Brendan; Meehan, Hilary; Ryan, Jane; Mahon, Denise; McIntyre, Bridin; Fanning, Martin; Downey, Gerard (Teagasc, 01/08/2005)
      This report deals with the market for and financial feasibility of converting from conventional to organic food production in Ireland. All members of the organic supply chain were included in the study i.e. farmers, intermediaries, retailers and consumers, to examine the potential of a market for conversion grade produce. Conversion products are those produced in the second year of the conversion phase from conventional to organic farming. Products do not attain full organic status until this is completed.
    • Nitrofurans: Measuring Tissue-Bound Residues in Meat

      O’Keeffe, Michael; Conneely, Anne; Nugent, Audrey; Downey, Gerard (Teagasc, 01/08/2006)
      The aims of this project were to (a) develop a range of screening and confirmatory test methods that might be applied to effectively test for the illicit use of the prohibited nitrofuran antimicrobials,(b) study the persistence of nitrofuran antimicrobials as bound metabolite residues inedible tissues and (c) undertake a pan-European survey of the incidence of nitrofurans in retail pork.
    • Adding value to cull cow beef

      O'Donovan, Michael; Minchin, William; Buckley, Frank; Kenny, David; Shalloo, Laurence (Teagasc, 01/08/2009)
      This project addressed the prospects of increasing the value of cull cow beef and examined the potential of a number of different management and dietary strategies. In Ireland, the national cow herd contributes 350,000 animals to total beef production annually, which represents 22% of all cattle slaughtered (DAF, 2007). A dominant feature of beef production in Ireland is the disposal of cows from the dairy and beef industries, the time of year at which culling occurs influences the number of cows available for slaughter. Suitability of a cow for slaughter is generally not a consideration for dairy or beef farmers.
    • Tracking of Salmonella through the Pork Slaughter Process

      Prendergast, Deirdre M.; Duggan, Sharon J.; Duffy, Geraldine; Downey, Gerard (Teagasc, 01/10/2009)
      To help address the problem of salmonellosis in the Republic of Ireland (RoI), a national Salmonella control programme was introduced in 1997 with a view to reducing the prevalence of Salmonella in pigs on the farm and on pig carcasses. The primary objective of this present study was to determine the correlation between the Salmonella serological and bacteriological status of pigs presented for slaughter and the Salmonella status of pork cuts following slaughter, dressing and chilling. Two additional studies investigated the prevalence and numbers of Salmonella spp. in the boning halls of four commercial pork abattoirs and at retail level in butcher shops and supermarkets in the RoI. The results indicated that categorisation of pig herds on the basis of a historical serological test for Salmonella was not a good predictor of the bacteriological Salmonella status of individual pigs at time of slaughter. However, it is acknowledged that serological testing does help in giving a rough estimate of the overall Salmonella status of a pig herd. There was a linear correlation between prevalence of Salmonella in caecal contents and on pork cuts at factory level; therefore, if the number of herds presented for slaughter with high levels of Salmonella (category 3) was reduced, there would be less potential for contamination of the lairage, equipment etc. and so less likelihood of Salmonella contamination on pork. The impact of crosscontamination during transport, lairage, processing and distribution cannot be ignored and measures to diminish this would significantly reduce the dissemination of Salmonella in the chain and the consequent risk posed. A key finding was the considerable variation in the incidence of Salmonella on different sampling days and in different slaughter plants.
    • Control of Blown Pack Spoilage in Vacuum Packaged Meat

      Bolton, Declan J.; Moschonas, Galatios; Sheridan, James J.; Downey, Gerard (Teagasc, 01/10/2009)
      Blown pack spoilage (BPS) represents a significant commercial loss to Irish meat processors. This research discovered that the organisms causing BPS are ubiquitous in the abattoir environment, making eradication very difficult. The risk of BPS is best managed through a process of regular treatment of plant and equipment with a sporicidal agent such as peroxyacetic acid, good hygiene to minimise carcass contamination and removal of the heat shrinkage stage during vacuum packaging as this activates the spores and reduces the time to spoilage.