Institute of Food Research

Predictive Microbiology and Risk Analysis Cluster

To explore current advances in predictive microbiology and risk analysis and develop improved decision support systems to manage microbial food risk.


We combine the practical experience of the industrial members with the fundamental research knowledge of IFR to give new insights allowing:

  • Improved prediction of the behaviour of micro- organisms under commercial conditions
  • Understanding of the real levels of risk associated with microbial growth avoiding recalls and ensuring the safety of your current and future produts
  • Effective risk management and communication
  • Real understanding of the behaviour and beliefs of consumers in relation to their susceptibility to food poisoning
  • Identification of areas that require new research

Who Attends?

This Cluster will be of particular benefit to food microbiologists and technologists with an interest in food safety, quantitative microbiology, risk assessment and prolonging shelf-life.

IFR Skill Base Underlying the Cluster

Predictive Modelling

  • Anticipating microbial responses in real food systems
  • Pathogen-specific expertise: Clostridium, Listeria, E. coli (including O157:H7), Bacillus, Yersinia, Salmonella, Campylobacter
  • Advanced use and further development of microbiological databases; both national and international
  • Prediction of pH in foods
  • Mechanistic modelling in foods
  • Mathematical modelling; including the inactivation, growth and habitat domains of micro-organisms
  • Software tools for analysis and prediction of inactivation and growth rates, habitat domains and the chemical composition of foods

Quantitative Microbiological Risk Assessment

  • Rational modelling with uncertain information, e.g. health statistics, process models, retail practices
  • Identifying gaps in knowledge
  • Framework to allow all stakeholders to access and interpret common information (e.g. risks, costs and benefits) using Bayesian Belief Nets (BBN)
  • Meeting the standards maintained by international agencies e.g. Codex

Understanding the Consumer

  • New approaches to risk perception and communication by modelling behavioural decision making
  • Factors influencing behaviour and behavioural change developing effective communications
  • Psychological research methods: quantitative and qualitative techniques; experimental and quasi- experimental design

Effective Experimental Design

  • How to get the most out of your research and factory trials
  • Survey design: multivariate analysis
  • Design of experimental systems: e.g. IFR Gel Cassette System
  • Protocol design: hypothesis development

Cluster Activities

The Cluster holds a series of one-day meetings and workshops designed to explore and address scientific and technical issues of concern to the industry. Some of the subjects covered include:

  • Teach-in workshops on concepts and vocabulary of predictive microbiology and risk assessment
  • Applying predictive microbiology methods to a hypothetical new product development issue
  • Using publicly available databases and software packages to predict the effect of environment on microbial responses to foods

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