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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Related Topics

Food Safety and Intervention Technologies Research Unit

Vacant, Research Leader
Joanne Murphy, Program Support Assistant
Voice:  (215) 233-6582
Fax:  (215) 233-6406

In the Spotlight


With a scrub, scrub here and a scrub, scrub there:


We all want our produce to be as clean as possible, but it's rather difficult to scour a strawberry, so food technologist Joshua Gurtler in our ARS Food Safety and Intervention Technologies Unit at Wyndmoor, Pa., is formulating a next-generation sanitizer, in collaboration with an industry partner, that will be based on new, more effective natural compounds to clean or extend the shelf life of our favorite whole, fresh-cut, frozen and dried fruits and veggies. (5/18)



It's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it!


If you're strolling the halls of our ARS, Eastern Regional Research Center at Wyndmoor, PA., yes, that really is grilled steak you smell, because microbiologist John B. Luchansky and his colleagues Jeffrey A. Call, microbiology technician Bradley A. Shoyer and microbiologist Anna C.S. Porto-Fett, in collaboration with university colleagues, have been investigating the effectiveness of grilling at killing E. coli O157:H7 on top sirloin steaks-and the news is guaranteed to warm any grillmaster's heart. (6/28)




Most-Cited Paper of 2008


On June 13th, 2011, the Institute of Food Technologists proudly presented Dr. Tony Jin of the Food Safety and Intervention Technologies Research Unit an award in recognition of the Most-Cited Paper of 2008 published in the Journal of Food Science.  The title of the paper is "Biodegradable Polylactic Acid Polymer with Nisin for Use in Antimicrobial Food Packaging".


Congratulations Dr. Jin!!!



And you really can eat them in months with an "R"!


There are lots of myths about oysters, but it's true that you probably shouldn't eat them - or clams or mussels - raw or undercooked if they've been harvested from pathogen-contaminated waters, so Dover, Delaware-based molecular biologist David H. Kingsley with our ARS Food Safety and Intervention Technologies Research Unit at Wyndmoor, Pa., and his colleagues have shown that applying some serious pressure can put the kibosh on nasty foodborne viruses' survival rates inside the mullusks. (4/19)




Oysters, Clams, and Mussels
Keeping Popular Mollusks Safe to Eat


In seafood-focused food safety research, microbiologist Gary Richards evaluates a hepatitis A virus assay at the ARS laboratory at Delaware Sate University-Dover. (D2171-1)

ARS molecular biologist David Kingsley (forground) works with Haiqiang Chen (middle) and Dallas Hoover, both with the University of Delaware-Newark, to perform high-pressure processing on virus samples at the university. (D2168-1) 


You don't have to be a celebrity chef to cook a pot of delicious, freshly harvested mussels. Simmer them for about a half-hour in a simple broth of white wine and garlic, then serve with a ready-to-eat garden salad and some crunchy bread. You'll have a hearty meal for family and friends to enjoy. In fact, mussels - easy to prepare and fun to eat - are one of America's most popular kinds of seafood.


Of course, simmering, or any other means of cooking, helps ensure that you won't pick up a foodborne pathogen when you eat a mollusk.  But eating raw or undercooked mollusks - as many seafood fans prefer to do - may pose a safety hazard if the shellfish is harvested from waters polluted with pathogenic microbes.


That's why enhancing the food safety of mouthwatering mollusks is the focus of David H. Kingsley, a molecular biologist; Gary P. Richards, a microbiologist; and technicians Gloria K. Meade, Brad Shoyer, and Michael A. Watson. Based in Dover, Delaware, they are the only ARS group working nearly exclusively on molluscan food safety. The team is in the ARS Eastern Regional Research Center's Food Safety and Intervention Technologies Research Unit.


Read all about it in the April 2011 issue of Research Magazine.





Winner of the Federal Laboratory Consortium (FLC) National Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer


Research Leader Christopher Sommers, Chemical Engineer David J. Geveke, Mechanical Engineer Neil Goldberg, and Chemical Engineer Michael Kozempel (retired), with the ARS Food Safety and Intervention Technologies Research Unit, in Wyndmoor, PA, will receive a Federal Laboratory Consortium (FLC) National Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer on May 5, 2011, at FLC's National Meeting in Nashville, TN.  The award recognizes top technology transfer activities across the Federal Government.  They will receive the award for developing a flash pasteurization method for improving the food safety of hot dogs.


Congratulations Guys!



Just add hush puppies, fried okra and pickled green tomatoes:


For those of us who firmly believe fried catfish is "Nature's most complete food," the work by food microbiologist Kathleen Rajkowski at our ARS Food Safety and Intervention Technologies Research Unit at Wyndmoor, Pa., on the effectiveness of ionizing radiation and UV light to combat pathogens like Listeria and Shigella on fillets of catfish and tilapia is all the encouragement we need to break out the deep-fat fryer.  (12/15)



In-Demand Fish:  Making Sure They're Always Safe to Eat


Food technologist Andy Hwang and technician Stacy Raleigh study the effect of smoking temperature on survival of Listeria monocytogenes on smoked salmon.


Popular fish like salmon, catfish, and tilapia are coming under the close scrutiny of Agricultural Research Service food-safety scientists Andy Hwang and Kathleen Rajkowski. They’re discovering more about how to prevent foodborne pathogens from contaminating these and other delicious, good-for-you seafood. Both scientists are based at the ARS Eastern Regional Research Center in Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania.


Click here to read all about it in the October 2010 Agricultural Research Magazine!


Congratulations Dr. Ching-Hsing Liao!



The cover of this month's Journal of Food Science features a micrograph from Dr. Ching-Hsing Liao's work on the microbial ecology of human pathogens on fresh and fresh-cut fruits and vegetables. The article is “Localization, Growth, and Inactivation of Salmonella Saintpaul on Jalapeño Peppers” by Ching-Hsing Liao, et al., J Food Sci 7(6):M377-382

Click here to read all about it!


Dr. Kathleen Rajkowski Honored

Dr. Kathleen Rajkowski will be honored as an International Association for Food Protection Fellow at the July IAFP meeting.  Kathleen's research covered fresh produce and now focuses on safety of aquaculture products.

Congratulations Kathleen!


Food Safety Developments are in the Air

 Photo: Cold plasma treatment of almonds. An experimental treatment that relies on cold plasma, which is created by introducing electricity into a gas until free electrons are liberated, may one day keep fresh produce like apples and almonds safe from potentially harmful bacteria such as Salmonella, Listeria and E. coli. Photo courtesy of Paul Pierlott.

An experimental treatment from the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) could one day help protect some fresh produce from potentially dangerous microbes such as Salmonella, Listeria and Escherichia coli O157:H7.

The treatment relies on cold plasma, which is generated when some form of concentrated energy--in this case, electricity--is introduced into a gas until free electrons are torn from the gas's atoms.

At the ARS Eastern Regional Research Center in Wyndmoor, Pa., microbiologist Brendan Niemira and engineer Joseph Sites--who are developing the process--exposed Golden Delicious apple samples to various microbial pathogens. Then they treated the samples with plasma.

Click here to read all about it!


Food Irradiation
Recent E. coli outbreaks heighten interest in the technology

Bette Hileman

Stephen Ausmus/USDA
Safety studies USDA researchers vacuum-seal hot dogs to get them ready for irradiation.

Food-borne infections cause about 76 million cases of illness, 325,000 hospitalization, and as many as 5,000 deaths in the U.S. annually.  In other words, they send one in 1,000 Americans to the hospital each year and kill thousands. 

Read more about the research in the January 2007 issue of Chemical & Engineering News


Nonthermal Food Processing is Heating Up


Food microbiologist Dike Ukuku (left) and engineer Joseph Sites evaluate effects of high-pressure processing on microbial stability of tomato juice and liquid eggs.  (D616-1)

The food industry wants to ensure the safety of its products while maintaining quality.  But while the maxim "heat kills germs" still holds true for food sterilization, scientists are exploring alternative treatments for lowering foodborne pathogen levels.  Today, new technologies that are faster, cheaper, and less disruptive to quality than traditional thermal processing are increasingly common.

Read more about the research in the October 2006 issue of Agricultural Research Magazine.

Last Modified: 7/2/2013
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