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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania » Eastern Regional Research Center » Characterization and Interventions for Foodborne Pathogens » Research » Research Project #443720

Research Project: Pathogen Growth During Shipping

Location: Characterization and Interventions for Foodborne Pathogens

Project Number: 8072-42000-093-004-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Feb 9, 2023
End Date: Nov 14, 2023

Food samples, selected by Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) inspectors positioned in production facilities, are packed on ice and short term shipped to regional laboratories for microbial testing. However, there is a concern that during shipping, samples temperatures may become elevated to a level that allows targeted pathogenic bacterial cells to grow and thus yield erroneously exaggerated numbers in subsequent testing. Therefore, research will focus on two areas: 1) determination of any pathogen growth during shipping/transit conditions and 2) evaluation of shipping containers for ensuring laboratory samples arrive at an appropriate temperature (e.g., role of dry ice/ gel packs/ improved insulation/radio frequency identification (RFID) tags).

Salmonella serotypes dublin, enteritidis, newport, and typhimurium (DENT) and Shiga-toxin producting Escherichia coli (STEC) growth levels will be evaluated under various laboratory (i.e., controlled temperature cold and warm rooms)-simulated shipping conditions (primarily time and temperature). Traditional microbiological culture enrichment and plating methods will be employed to assess growth using antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains. Conditions will be identified and further evaluated for the reduction (within 0.5 log) or elimination of growth during shipment. If time permits, novel packing material will be identified and tested for ability to maintain the conditions demonstrated to minimize or eliminate growth.