SYMPREVIUS: Software based on predictive microbiology knowledge
Sym'Previus - Predictive Microbiology
|Project acronym: SYM'PREVIUS|
|Duration: Since 1999|
|Funded by: French Ministries, food industry and technical Institutes|
Project name: SYM’PREVIUS
Contact: Dominique THUAULT 
1. Context and problematic
The Sym'Previus network started in France in 1999, in order to meet food industry needs regarding food safety and quality management. The project aims was clearly to develop a software based on predictive microbiology knowledge. International food companies, French technical centres and public research institutes were and are still involved.
The Sym’Previus network gathers - a scientific committee, coordinated by Frédéric Carlin (INRA) - an administrative committee, coordinated by Patrick Robichon (Pernod-Ricard). The results communication and transfer of the developed Sym’Previus software is managed by ADRIA Développement (Agro-Industrial Technical Institute), with the coordination of Dominique Thuault.
2. Results and Applications
The software gathers (i) a database providing information on micro-organism behaviour in food products, (ii) a predictive tool for micro-organisms behaviour simulation according to selected environmental conditions of pH, temperature, water activity, etc…The query system allows tailored-made interrogations, using specific selections of food products, target micro-organisms... The software provides calculations of (i) growth/no growth boundaries, (ii) growth prediction, (iii) heat treatment impact, (iv) quantitative risk analysis based on a probabilistic approach. Constant improvements are realised, with now a strong involvement of many European research programs and organisations. For instance, Sym’Previus is currenlty implemented to predict microbial behaviour in the food models that are developed in the DREAM project (FP7).
3. Novelties, benefits and added value
Sym’Previus is online available (www.symprevius.org), and a stick based version is currently developed. Sym’Previus is now a recognised and reliable decision-making tool, helping in food innovation process, food-product shelf-life determination, HACCP plan improvement, heat treatment parameter optimisation. Several predictive modules are available, fiting with food quality and production managers needs, but as well with food safety agencies, regulation bodies’ expectations.
4. Successful applications, success stories
More than 10 000 connexions were done in 2009.
A guidance document based on the probabilistic approach developed in Sym’Previus software was recently written for Listeria monocytogenes shelf-life studies for ready-to-eat food, under Regulation (EC) n° 2073/2005 of 15 November 2005 on microbiological criteria for foodstuffs.
At least, staff from the European reference laboratories on Listeria monocytogenes are trained on the software used every year.