Global trade in food and utility articles represents an enormous challenge for food safety and in terms of generating the basic data required. New, previously unknown risks are transported around the world very rapidly. A fast response in a crisis is only possible if an international network is in place and Switzerland has sufficient research capacities of its own. This enables high-quality data to be generated as a basis for risk evaluation and risk management activities.
In the area of food safety there are many interfaces to primary plant and animal production, and this is reflected in the main areas of research.
Microbiology and the food chain
- Monitoring, epidemiology and diagnosis of food pathogens (including zoonoses; emerging pathogens and Campylobacter) and their toxins;
- Investigation of antibiotic resistance in bacteria in food of animal origin;
- Milk hygiene: causes and intervention strategies on farms with structural or personnel problems.
Contaminants and ingredients
- Investigation of hormonally active and carcinogenic substances, some of which are persistent environmental contaminants;
- Presence of positive or negative naturally occurring substances in food;
- Contaminants from packaging materials and transfer of undesirable substances from packaging to food.
- Development of new methods and method performance testing.
Drinking water has a special status in the context of food safety. Water quality in Switzerland may be chemically or microbiologically impaired as a result of the country’s geology or contaminants. The following research aspects are investigated with the aim of sustainably improving water quality:
- Chemical and microbiological quality of drinking water; possible measures and management methods, including Legionella;
- Information about the routes of faecal contamination of drinking water and development of effective protective measures;
- Occurrence and relevance of natural and human-derived chemical contaminants in drinking water.