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ESCAPE: Characterization of the interaction between the microbiota of chicken meat and the foodborne pathogen Campylobacter [ANR JCJC Project ]

the kick-off meeting of ESCAPE took place on February 4, 2022

Nabila Haddad, assistant-professor at SECALIM, was awarded the ANR JCJC 2021 with her ESCAPE project on Campylobacter. The ESCAPE project was selected during the ANR 2021 Call for Generic Projects in the CE21 - Food and food systems, in the Young Researchers Young Researchers (JCJC) scheme, which funds individual research projects worn by scientists at the start of their careers.

For several years, Campylobacter has remained the leading cause of food-borne zoonosis in Europe. The ingestion of contaminated poultry meat is the main transmission route of Campylobacter to humans (493,000 human symptomatic cases of campylobacteriosis per year and 26% of cases of foodborne outbreaks in France). Controlling the contamination of poultry meat by Campylobacter represents a major public health issue but also an economic issue due to the introduction of a new process hygiene criterion. Among the means of control identified to reduce the level of Campylobacter contamination of poultry carcasses are strategies focused on the slaughter process, taking advantage of the sensitivity of the bacteria to thermal and oxidative stress.

The behavior of Campylobacter under conditions of thermal stress or oxidative stress, such as those encountered during the slaughter process, has been the subject of several studies. However, to date, assessments of exposure to Campylobacter have been based on the study of the behavior of the pathogen without taking into account the microbiota present on the meat. However, it is known that the bacterial interactions that take place within the microbiota influence the behavior of pathogens up to the consumer's plate and that the composition of the microbiota depends on the conditions encountered along the food chain.
It is in this context that the ESCAPE (ANR-21-CE21-0008-01) project fits. Its objectives are (i) to quantitatively assess the effect of the rearing method, chilling and packaging of broiler carcasses on the composition of the microbiota and the level of Campylobacter contamination of the poultry carcass, ( ii) to determine whether certain bacterial species within the carcass microbiota favor or hinder the persistence of Campylobacter, and thus to identify potential bacterial indicators predicting the presence of Campylobacter on the carcass, and (ii) to understand how and why Campylobacter survives on meat, by studying the mechanisms relating to the response of the pathogen in interaction with these bacterial indicators.

ESCAPE is part of a process to improve meat safety by considering new risk mitigation strategies and by assessing exposure to risk, taking into account the microbiota of the foodstuff concerned.
The results of the project will make it possible to obtain a better knowledge of the behavior of Campylobacter, in particular by considering the influence of biotic factors (microbiota) on the presence and survival of Campylobacter on meat, for a possible integration of these factors into models. assessment of exposure to Campylobacter. The highlighting of microbial indicators facilitated the monitoring of the presence of Campylobacter within the framework of quality monitoring. In the longer term, the investigation of other control strategies with the use of inhibitory bacteria will allow better risk control and thus reduce the impact of campylobacteriosis.

The impacts of the project's results for the agri and food sectors are multiple, and should enable companies in the poultry sector to gain compliance in the control of sanitary quality, and to be more competitive by benefiting from the results of research and development. innovation of specialized research teams.

Partner: Béatrice Laroche, Research Director in the INRAE ​​MAIAGE unit