Microbiology Research Division

The Microbiology Research Division (MRD) contributes to the microbiological safety of the Canadian food supply by providing research-based scientific data and expert scientific advice to support the development of federal policies, guidelines, standards and regulations to ensure the microbial safety of the Canadian food supply.

The MRD has a number of scientific experts in the areas of bacterial, viral and parasitic food contaminants. The scientists in MRD have specific expertise in microbial food pathogens such as:

  • Salmonella species.,
  • E. coli (Escherichia coli),
  • Listeria,
  • Shigella,
  • Campylobacter,
  • Vibrio species.,
  • C. botulinum (Clostridium botulinum),
  • protozoan parasites (Cryptosporidium, Cyclospora, Giardia), and
  • in food virology (Noroviruses, hepatitis A virus, Rotaviruses). 

Furthermore, MRD houses four national Reference Service Laboratories and three networks:

  • the Listeria Reference Laboratory,
  • Botulism Reference Laboratory,
  • Food Virology Reference Laboratory,
  • Vibrio Reference Laboratory,
  • Food and Environmental Virology Network,
  • the Food and Environmental Parasitology Network, and
  • ViroNetwork. 

Research interests of the MRD include the detection, growth, survival, inactivation, toxigenesis, and molecular characterization of bacterial, viral and parasitic pathogens in raw and processed foods. The group also examines, develops, and incorporates new and emerging technologies which can be used for the detection of pathogens and in enhancing food safety. The MRD enjoys an enviable national and international reputation in the development/validation of methods for the timely and reliable detection of human foodborne pathogens and toxins in foods and for the validation of food processing technologies. A number of MRD's scientists are adjunct professors at various universities, thus  providing training and research projects for university undergraduate and graduate students, post-docs, and visiting microbiologists from Canada and abroad. The Division is a major advisor to national and foreign government agencies and food industries on the dynamics and detection of pathogens in foods and food processing.

MRD scientists are members and editors on the advisory boards of various national and international organizations (e.g., Codex, World Health Organization (WHO)/Food and Argiculture Organization (FAO), International Association for Food Protection (IAFP), European Union Consortium), Editors and on the Editorial boards of various high impact scientific journals, and are collaborators or leaders of national or international collaborations.

The Microbiology Research Division develops official methods and laboratory procedures that are published in the Health Canada Compendium of Analytical Methods.

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