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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania » Eastern Regional Research Center » Food Safety and Intervention Technologies Research » Research » Research Project #430151

Research Project: The Role of Genotype in the Development and Validation of Growth Models and Intervention Technologies for Pathogenic Non-Shiga Toxigenic Escherichia coli Found in Foods

Location: Food Safety and Intervention Technologies Research

Project Number: 8072-42000-078-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Jan 6, 2016
End Date: Jan 5, 2021

The overall goal of this project is to determine the growth and inactivation kinetics of foodborne pathogens suspended in foods treated using thermal and nonthermal process interventions, with a strong emphasis on ExPEC. 1. Develop and validate models to simulate pathogen behavior under both growth and inactivation conditions. 2. Developing and validating non-thermal and thermal intervention technologies to inactivate pathogens and spoilage microorganisms in raw and ready-to-eat foods and food contact surfaces. 3. Examine any relationship between genotype (virulence factors) and pathogen resistance to interventions. The results of this research will be transferred to regulatory agencies (USDA Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS), US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)) to develop genomic-based risk assessments. In addition, results will be transferred to women’s health groups, commercial entities, and the meat and poultry industry. This approach may be ultimately expanded to include other thermal and nonthermal intervention technologies and extraintestinal foodborne pathogens.

Extraintestinal Escherichia coli (ExPEC) are common contaminants in food which includes fresh produce, fish, meat and poultry. Illness occurs after contaminated food is consumed, the ExPEC colonize the gastrointestinal tract, and are then accidentally transferred to the urethra. They then cause urinary tract infections (UTI), sepsis, and meningitis. Approximately 6-8 million cases of UTI and 23,000 deaths annually are attributed to ExPEC. ExPEC and other extraintestinal foodborne pathogens which are found in meat and poultry have been directly traced to illness in humans. In addition, these emerging foodborne pathogens are resistant to multiple antibiotics and are considered a national research priority as noted in the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST, 2014). As specifically noted by regulatory agencies this project addresses “an area of growing concern to FSIS and the public health community” which will help: 1) improve the ability to develop safe processing procedures and to evaluate the impact of processing deviations on pathogen growth in the impacted products; 2) provide insights into mechanisms that contribute to the survival of pathogens to commonly used microbial intervention and mechanisms that affect the severity of illness in humans, and antibiotic resistance in outbreak strains; and 3) provide a scientific foundation for the development of new Agency food safety policies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the use of foods treated with appropriate intervention technologies to lessen the risk of foodborne illness for “at risk” individuals. There is little if any information about growth or inactivation kinetics of the ExPEC in food using both thermal and nonthermal food safety intervention technologies or how pathogen genotype affects their resistance to intervention technologies, hence we will generate such data to fill the informational void regarding these emerging pathogens as part of this unique food safety project.