The Project #OH-HARMONY-CAP
|Start:||1 January 2020|
|Keywords:||One Health, harmonisation, capability, capacity, interoperability|
|Contact:||Nadia Boisen (SSI)|
OH-HARMONY-CAP: One Health Harmonisation of Protocols for the Detection of Foodborne Pathogens and AMR Determinants
OH-HARMONY-CAP was a 3-year project that aimed to:
- Collect information on current capabilities, capacities, interoperability, and adaptability at both the National Reference Laboratory (NRL) and the primary diagnostic level, across Europe by developing an in-depth OHLabCap survey.
- Examine current and best practices within the One Health sectors (public health, veterinary & food/environment testing labs) in ‘Sampling & testing’, ‘Characterisation of isolates’ and ‘Data management & harmonised reporting.’ This included the identification of current knowledge gaps and proposal for new studies and/or methods to fill them.
- Produce recommendations on how to harmonise the methodology for the detection and typing of pathogens.
OH-Harmony-CAP has now delivered and expanded a global strategic overview of laboratory capacity in the animal-food field.
By the end of 2022, 18 partner institutes from 14 European countries constituted the OH-HARMONY-CAP Consortium.
Project Outputs, Outcomes and Impact
OHLabCap developed and tested, for the first time a One Health monitoring tool, which collected information on current capabilities, capacities, interoperability, and adaptability in EU/EEA countries across all One Health sectors (human clinical, food, feed, veterinary and environmental laboratories). The tool focused on selected priority parasites (5) and bacteria (6). Impact: The OHLabCap highlighted major differences between the diagnostic laboratories in the two main sectors human clinical and food/feed/veterinary across the One Health microbiological systems in place in the participating countries. Of particular concern, is the lack of accreditation and standardisation in the human clinical diagnostic laboratories.
A first survey of the food business operators HACCP-based self-control programmes; including the sampling and analytical methods food business operators (FBOs) carried out on priority parasites and bacteria to support more comparable microbiological sampling and testing programmes. Impact: the analysis revealed gaps and differences between food business operators’ HACCP-based self-control programmes and official monitoring programmes within and between countries. This information provides a baseline for further harmonisation and standardisation of sampling and analytical protocols of foodborne pathogens, not only at a national level but in a European context.
Current & best practice in:  sampling & testing;  characterisation, and  data management and harmonised reporting for laboratories testing food, feed, environmental and human samples for Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC), Enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC), Cryptosporidium and antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in Salmonella and Campylobacter spp. across the EU were surveyed using peer reviewed papers, grey literature and questionnaires. The latter were completed by European public health, veterinary, food testing and National Reference Laboratories reached via the EURL network of NRLs, EFSA Zoonoses network, ECDC Food and Waterborne Disease network, amongst others. Impact: The three reports delivered highlighted current deficits and data gaps with recommendations on how these could be addressed.
Developed criteria for a ranking system for an assessment of laboratory protocols. The ranking system was applied on collected protocols for the detection and characterisation of Shiga toxin-producing coli (STEC), Enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC), Cryptosporidium and antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in Salmonella and Campylobacter spp.
The results of the ranking of submitted protocols were used to select and recommend the currently best procedures and protocols:
- Proposed harmonised procedures for the detection and typing of Shiga toxin-producing coli (STEC), and Enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC). The evaluation of the chosen protocols included examination of PCR primer choices. This resulted in the development of alternative omni-primers for the detection of the STEC and ETEC defining genes as the chosen protocols did not reflect the current knowledge of new subtypes and variants of the genes. As such, four new subtypes of Shigatoxin genes have been described and three of these have been published as part of the OH-HARMONY-CAP project. Publication of the last eight new Shiga toxins is in preparation.
- No need to issue a unique procedure for AMR in Salmonella and Campylobacter
- Developed and proposed a decision tree for the detection and typing of Cryptosporidium
Proposed harmonised procedures to distinguish between Enteroinvasive E. coli (EIEC) and Shigella spp. Both of these groups are often causes of foodborne outbreaks and the project chose to develop and test PCR primers that could separate the two groups from one another.
Arranged and provided training sessions for the harmonised procedures, through practical training seminars and E-learning.
The developed protocols are expected to be tested in future EQA programmes. Impact: The proposed procedures, if implemented, will contribute to an improvement in the standardisation and harmonisation of protocols for the model organisms. The ranking of laboratory protocols also provided and suggested elements for consideration and choice of protocol that can be applied for other organisms and procedures in the OH sectors. The development of new PCR primers for the detection of STEC and ETEC related genes represents an update reflecting the current epidemiology and current knowledge of microbiology organisms that are forever changing.
Aybar Espinoza, M. S., Flink, C., Boisen, N., Scheutz, F. and Käsbohrer, A. (2023). Microbiological sampling and analyses in the food business operators’ HACCP based self-control programmes. Frontiers in Food Science and Technology. 3, 1110359. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3389/frfst.2023.1110359
Johannessen, G. S., Tozzoli, R., Pista, A., Flink, C., Bolton, D., Kirchner, M. & Boisen, N. (2022). Characterization methods for Shiga toxin-producing E. coli – a part of OH-HARMONY-CAP. Poster presentation for One Health EJP Annual Scientific Meeting. Orvieto, Italy. 11-13th April, 2022. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.7400021
Gill, A., Dussault, F., McMahon, T., Petronella, N., Wang, X., Cebelinski, E., Scheutz, F., Weedmark, K., Blais, B., & Carrillo, C. (2022). Characterization of Atypical Shiga Toxin Gene Sequences and Description of Stx2j, a New Subtype. Journal of clinical microbiology. 60(3), e0222921. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1128/jcm.02229-21
Bai, X., Scheutz, F., Dahlgren, H. M., Hedenström, I., & Jernberg, C. (2021). Characterization of Clinical Escherichia coli Strains Producing a Novel Shiga Toxin 2 Subtype in Sweden and Denmark. Microorganisms. 9(11), 2374. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms9112374