Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) and partners, in collaboration with public analysis laboratories, will conduct a comprehensive survey of the microbiological pathogens in minced beef across Scotland. The aim of this survey is to collect data on the microbiological quality of retail beef mince on sale in Scotland. 

In the first such survey of fresh beef mince at retail level in Scotland, the year-long project will study 1,000 samples from retail outlets across the country. 

Commissioned by Food Standards Scotland (FSS) and led by SRUC, the survey aims to generate baseline data on the prevalence of pathogens and hygiene indicator organisms in mince beef on retail sale. It is also hoped to identify any possible patterns in the variation (such as seasonal or geographical patterns) in order to identify any risk factors associated with microbiological contamination.

This will be done by undertaking comprehensive survey of the microbiological pathogens STEC (Shiga toxin-producing E. coli), Campylobacter, Salmonella and hygiene indicator organisms (generic E. coli and aerobic colony counts) in minced beef. All of the pathogens detected and a subset of 100 isolates of generic E. coliwill be tested for antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

Led by scientists from SRUC’s Epidemiology Research Unit in Inverness, the survey will involve three Scientific Services Laboratories, two Scottish Microbiological Reference Laboratories as well as input from the Food-Borne Pathogens Group at the University of Aberdeen.

The sampling programme will take place between January and December 2019, with a report due to be published next year. The project will study 1,000 mince samples from retail outlets across Scotland.