Submitted to: Food Technologists Institute
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/6/2002
Publication Date: 12/3/2002
Citation: Juneja, V.K. 2002. Research trends - 2003 and beyond. Food Technologists Institute. 56(11):36.
Technical Abstract: Current food safety issues demonstrate the need for continued research and re-evaluation of intervention strategies through the farm-to-table continuum for the quantitative reduction/control of pathogens. Research in the area of packaging hurdles, as well as emerging thermal and non-thermal technologies for the destruction of pathogens, will gain momentum. The ultimate aim is to introduce these technologies in the food processing industry, thereby improving the safety and shelf-life of foods. Synergistic effects of emerging technologies in combination with complex multifactorial experiments and analyses to quantify the efficacy of both intrinsic and extrinsic factors such as the prior history of pathogens, storage conditions and potential temperature abuse, etc., and the development of "enhanced" predictive models will be attempted. Inactivation kinetics models to predict microbial reductions on the surface of foods during surface pasteurization processes will also be developed. Studies will be aimed at providing insight into the physiological and molecular mechanisms of microbial inactivation, microbial stress responses and associated enhanced virulence, and pathogen emergence and interactions with food production processes, to assist in identifying potential new approaches for safer production of foods. For the purpose of identifying critical control points, developing intervention strategies, and constructing accurate models for risk assessments, research efforts will be aimed at gaining knowledge on microbial ecology throughout the food chain, the epidemiology of specific pathogens, and strain-to-strain variations within bacterial species concerning their growth and resistance kinetics. Emphasis will be on the use of molecular biology to understand the response of food pathogens to food environments, including the role of signaling molecules produced by pathogenic and spoilage bacteria in food on the regulation of growth, survival, and virulence of pathogens. Approaches relying on the tools of genomics and proteomics will lead to new understandings of physiological responses of pathogens in food environments. This information will provide the basis for the development of new detection techniques and more effective control strategies for bacterial pathogens. While research on the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), molecular subtyping (DNA fingerprinting), impedance/conductance, and enzyme-linked immunosorbant assay (ELISA) tests have made significant strides in diagnostic microbiology with regard to concentration, enrichment, amplification and detection of low levels of pathogens, development of real-time detection systems for verification and validation of intervention technologies used in HACCP systems remains a task for the future. With certain pathogens, such as E. coli O157:H7, that are declared as an adulterant and with concerns associated with individuals susceptible to low infectious doses, research efforts will be focused on developing technologies that not only reduce or inhibit pathogens, but that destroy or eliminate pathogenic organisms to ensure a safer global food supply.