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MBS method to control the microbiological safety of food and water samples in developing Countries

Place: cameroon, Africa
Food consumption patterns: diet, environment, society, economy and health Food consumption patterns: diet, environment, society, economy and health
Total Budget: € 50.000,00 | Period: From June 2012 To

Summary

Main objective of the present project is to apply in Cameroon the innovative MBS method to carry out microbiological analysis on food and water samples with the final aim to increase food and water safety in developing Countries. A further goal of this project is to train local technicians to raise awareness of food and water safety in African people.

To reach these objectives we take advantage of the Micro Biological Survey (MBS) method. MBS method is a rapid alternative method for the detection and the selective counting of bacteria present in agro-food and water samples developed and worldwide patented by Roma Tre University. The analyses with MBS method can be carried out by untrained personnel and anywhere where they are necessary, being possible to use it where no other methods for microbiological analysis are possible, such as in developing Countries.

Partnership

Department of Sciences, Roma Tre University - Italy

Lead applicant

Interuniversity Consortium “Istituto Nazionale Biostrutture e Biosistemi” (INBB – Biostructures and Biosystems National Institute) - Italy

Initiative partner

University of Dschang - Cameroon

Initiative partner

Department of Biology, "Tor Vergata" University of Rome - Italy

Initiative partner

MBS srl - Italy

Initiative partner

Main objective of the present project is to apply in Cameroon the MBS method to carry out microbiological analysis on food and water samples with the final aim to increase food and water safety in Developing Countries. Another goal of the project is to train local personnel into specialised technicians.

Peculiar features of the MBS method for microbiological analysis are:
• Easy: Analyses can be carried out anywhere and by anyone without specific skills. No laboratory or any instrument other than a thermostat is required. No sample pretreatment (homogenization, dilution, etc.) is required.
• Fast: 2 to 5-fold faster than traditional analyses.
• Sensitive: Down to the theoretical limit of just 1 viable microbial cell.
• Selective: Up to the experimental limit of 99.999%.
• Reliable: Tested by many private and official laboratories and validated according to ISO 17025:2005
• Safe:  Safe for both the operator and the environment since post-analysis sterilization is included
• Cheap:  The overall cost of a single analysis is lower than that of either a traditional analysis or a more recent method of analysis that must be carried out by skilled technicians operating in a fully equipped laboratory.

MBS vial In the presence of bacteria the vial change color from blue to yellow

Microbial food safety and food-borne infections are an important public health concern worldwide. Traditional methods are widely used in food and water analysis though they present several difficulties, such as subjectivity in the interpretation of tests, the possible interference of matrices, intense labor, high cost of supplies, and lastly, the prolonged time needed to give definitive results.

On the contrary, the analyses with MBS method can be carried out by untrained personnel and anywhere they are necessary, without the need of any instrumentation other than a thermostat. MBS method has been succesfully used for microbiological analysis of food and water samples in Douala, Cameroon, and it appeared specially suitable in developing countries used by by local trained technicians.

Pathogenic bacteria, viruses and toxins produced by microorganisms are all possible contaminants of food. More than 200 known diseases are caused by pathogens, their toxins, or other substances transmitted through food. 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, “safe drinking-water must not represent any significant risk to health over a lifetime of consumption, including different sensitivities that may occur between life stages”.

Unfortunately, this minimum quality standard for food and water microbiological safety is far from being obtained especially in developing countries were food-borne and water-borne diseases represent one of the first causes of death especially in infants and young children.

It is therefore essential to identify the contaminations and build strategies to ensure the safety of food and water. 

Microbiological analysis Microbiological analysis in Douala, Cameroon

The real beneficiaries of the present initiative are the populations of developing Countries where up to now a systematic analysis of food and water microbiological safety was not possible to achieve.

  • increase the awareness of both local Authorities and population about food and water microbiological safety
  • bring both local Authorities and population to take the necessary measures to remove the causes of contamination
  • health in the whole population.

The six people involved in this initiative come both from Italy and Cameroon and they are experts in microbiological analysis of water and food samples.

They are also experts in the prevention and remediation of food and water microbiological contamination.

Lastly, they are able to train local technicians on microbiological analysis and on the prevention and remediation of food and water microbiological contamination.

 

The main obstacle could be represented by a lack of cooperation from the public authorities or from the population itself. 

A further duty of the trained technicians is infact to obtain cooperation from the public authorities and from the population itself illustrating the risks of microbial contamination of food and water, how to prevent such contamination and how to remove it

Analyses carried out with MBS method are safe for the environment since post-analysis sterilization does not require any additional procedure or instrument. The sterilization is reached at the end of the analyses simply by pressing the perforable cap that causes the release of a not-toxic sterilizing agent into the vial. After sterilization, the vial can be properly disposed as "not dangerous special waste".

In addition, microbiological analyses carried out with the MBS method can allow a more comprehensive evaluation of environment microbiological pollution.

The initiative is planned to be continued after the end of the project and a periodic microbiological monitoring of food and water samples should remain as best practice in Cameroon.

For the future, this initiative should be extended to other developing Countries.

Dissemination of the results of the project will occur by traditional methods such as publications in both specialised and large-diffusion journals as well as in presentations at meetings and congresses.


In addition, the trained local technicians will sensibilize local Authorities as well as  populations on the health problems related to food and water microbiological safety.