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Department of Food Hygiene

Estonian University of Life Sciences
Institute of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Sciences
Department of Food Hygiene

Kreutzwaldi 56/3
Tartu, 51014
Tel. +372 731 3433
Fax. +372 731 3432

 

The word hygiene is derived from Greek mythology and comes from the name of the Greek goddess of health, Hygieia (Wikipedia, 31.07.2015; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hygiene).

Codex Alimentarius states that people have the right to expect the food they eat to be safe and suitable for consumption. Foodborne illness and foodborne injury are at best unpleasant; at worst, they can be fatal. But there are also other consequences. Outbreaks of foodborne illness can damage trade and tourism, and lead to loss of earnings, unemployment and litigation. Food spoilage is wasteful, costly and can adversely affect trade and consumer confidence (Food Hygiene Basic Text, 2009). In the manufacture of food and other products, good hygiene is the key part of ‘quality assurance’ ensuring that the product complies with microbial specifications appropriate to its use.

The term food hygiene means all conditions and measures necessary to ensure the safety and suitability of food at all stages of the food chain. We may also expect that food production hygiene is a part of each food enterprise strategy to produce safe and hygienic production by applying effective food safety management systems.

The history of the Department of Food Hygiene goes back to the year 1945 when the Department of Veterinary Hygiene Expertise was established as the offspring of the Veterinary Hygiene Institute. Thereafter, the Department has had many names and divisions up to the year 2010 when the Department got its current name.

Research and teaching

The main research of the department is related to food safety and quality e.g. microbial and chemical food hazards; environmental hygiene; natural antioxidants and antimicrobials. Additionally, some other research topics are covered like Estonian grape wine quality and functionality; fatty acids composition analyses; the quality of organic food versus conventional, etc.

Scientific co-operation is mainly carried out in partnership with:

  • University of Helsinki (Finland)
    • Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (Department of Food Hygiene and Environmental Health);
    • Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry (Department of Food Chemistry);
    • Faculty of Pharmacy (Division of Pharmaceutical Biology).
  • Natural Resources Institute Finland (LUKE)
  • Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Plant Breeding
  • Lunds University (Sweden), Department of Food Technology
  • Aarhus University (Denmark), Department of Food Science
  • Latvian University of Agriculture
    • Faculty of Veterinary Medicine
    • Institute of Horticulture
  • Harokopio University (Greece), Department of Dietetics and Nutrition,
  • University of Tartu (Estonia)
    • Department of Pharmacy
  • Tallinn Technical University, Estonia
    • Institute of Chemistry
  • Veterinary and Food Laboratory, Tartu, Estonia
  • Health Inspectorate Tartu Laboratory, Estonia

Also, some other research partners from abroad and from Estonia are involved in the scientific co-operation.

Department of Food Hygiene carries out teaching and research in the areas of food hygiene and safety and food science in general. Additionally, the academic staff is responsible for teaching such subjects as animal biology, cell and molecular biology and human nutrition. Mostly students in veterinary medicine are taught. Additionally, the students from other curricula are taught, especially in the form of free elective subjects given by the academic staff of the department. As to doctoral studies, academic staff of the department is supervising the students of the Veterinary Medicine and Food Science PhD program.

The Department has published 6 textbooks related to general food hygiene and safety, food toxicology and food production hygiene. Recently, Professor Tõnu Püssa published the second edition of "Principles of Food Toxicology" (CRC Press, 2014). In 2005 - 2015 altogether 60 scientific articles indexed by Thomson Reuters Web of Science have been published.

The academic staff of the Department is carrying multi‑disciplinary approach, because specialists of veterinary medicine, food technology, chemistry, biology and molecular biology are working together.

The Department of Food Hygiene is offering re-training courses to official and authorised veterinarians; food hygiene and food safety related professionals; food handlers and hunters.

Currently (2015), the Food Hygiene Department employs ten academic persons (incl. two professors) involved with teaching and research activities.