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Microbiologist Honored by Research Agency / February 12, 2003 / News from the USDA Agricultural Research Service

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News story about Juneja's research (July 1998)


Microbiologist Honored by Research Agency

By Jim Core
February 12, 2003

BELTSVILLE, Md., Feb. 12—Vijay K. Juneja, a supervisory microbiologist with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), has been named the “North Atlantic Area Senior Research Scientist of 2002” for the agency. ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.

Juneja, based at the ARS Eastern Regional Research Center (ERRC) in Wyndmoor, Pa., is being honored for pioneering research into the microbiological effects that occur during food processing. His work in ERRC’s Microbial Food Safety Research Unit helps industries and regulatory agencies ensure the safety of foods.

ARS’ North Atlantic Area includes Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia and part of Maryland.

Juneja is internationally recognized in the field of food safety for his research in defining the required heat treatment and safe cooling rates for cooked meats to inactivate food-borne pathogens. He helped the meat industry establish standards to validate a safe process for cooking hamburger with a device he co-designed to monitor the temperature of hamburgers during cooking. They showed that Escherichia coli O157:H7 can be eliminated if the temperature of the coldest spot in the hamburger is monitored and the burger is cooked adequately.

He led a team that established the cellular basis of heat resistance of emerging pathogens. The team discovered that food preservation factors used to guard against pathogens may in fact stress the pathogens and render them more resistant to subsequent heat treatments. The food industry has responded to his research team’s findings by identifying potential new approaches for the safe production of foods processed with milder preservation techniques.

“Dr. Juneja has maintained an innovative and highly productive research program,” said Edward B. Knipling, ARS acting administrator. “His research has had significant impact in protecting consumers from the risk of food-borne illness.”

Knipling will present a plaque to Juneja during a 1 p.m. ceremony today at the agency’s Henry A. Wallace Beltsville (Md.) Agricultural Research Center.

Juneja has worked for ARS since 1991. Among his many awards, he was named ARS’ “Outstanding Early Career Research Scientist of the Year” in 1998.

He is a member of the Institute of Food Technologists and the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences. He is an associate editor of the Journal of Food Sciences and has served on the Journal of Food Protection’s Board of Editors since 1994. Juneja has authored 167 publications and edited four books.

A native of India, Juneja earned a degree in veterinary medicine from the Govind Ballabh Pant University of Agriculture and Technology in Pantnagar, India. He received a master of science in animal science and his Ph.D. in food technology and science from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.

He and his wife Poonam live in North Wales, Pa., with their daughter Komal, 14, and son Nikhil, 9.

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Last Modified: 2/11/2003
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