The aim of the group is to achieve maximum microbiological safety of food, mainly foods of animal origin, through the application of minimal processing technologies, high hydrostatic pressure and biological antimicrobial systems. The genetic characterization of pathogens relevant to the Spanish food sector such as Listeria monocytogenes, enterotoxigenic Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella spp. and Cronobacter spp., associated with outbreaks and foodborne illnesses, is performed. Traceability studies of persistent contamination in the industry are carried out. The capacity of microorganisms to form biofilms and their molecular mechanisms of response to disinfectants and minimal processing treatments are also evaluated.
Application of control strategies (high hydrostatic pressure and biopreservatives) to prevent or minimize the incidence and growth of L. monocytogenes and enterotoxigenic S. aureus in dry-cured meat products with less curing salts. This work is carried out both in meat models and dry-cured ham with reduced salt and nitrites.
To evaluate the effect of control strategies on gene expression of L. monocytogenes and S. aureus in dry-cured meat products. The expression patterns of virulence, toxicity and stress-related (osmotic, acid, etc.) genes in dry-cured ham are analyzed by qPCR.
To study the invasiveness and survival of L. monocytogenes cells through simulated gastrointestinal tract conditions previously exposed to sublethal stress due to the selected inactivation treatments.
Characterization of L. monocytogenes and enterotoxigenic S. aureus from dry-cured meat products processing plants through raw materials, final products, and environment and equipment surfaces sampling.
Molecular tracking of L. monocytogenes, Salmonella enterica and Cronobacter spp. in food processing environment by whole genome sequencing.
Effect of disinfectants used in food processing environments on planktonic cells and biofilms of L. monocytogenes and S. enterica. Different levels of disinfectants are assessed both on biofilm formation and the virulence of isolates.