Testing the potential of distilling as an alternative use for DON-contaminated wheat

A 5 Month Project Funded by Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE):

The goal of this project is to provide guidance to farmers, millers, and distillers about whether and at what levels DON contaminated grain can be safely used in distillation, thus impacting farmer, miller, and distiller decision-making in selling and using these grains.

We will do this by:

  • Collecting wheat samples that have tested high for DON.
  • Distilling from contaminated wheat.
  • Tracing where DON segregates by Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) kit.

This project would help prevent the loss of both partial and full wheat crop value due to food safety contamination by converting grain to safe alternative profitable uses.

Flexible risk process models can be used to quantify residual risks and the impact of interventions on residual risks

A project funded by Center for Produce Safety (CPS). Renewable for up to three years.

The produce industry needs a model to (i) identify the most important risks in a supply chain and (ii) identify which practices and control strategies appropriately reduce risks of contamination events that could lead to product recalls and illness outbreaks. This could mean which pathogen is most important for a commodity, or which practice represents the largest risk for a given supply chain.

We do this by:

  • Modelling the risk in a supply chain for leafy greens contaminated by two important pathogens, either Shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli or Listeria monocytogenes.
  • Expanding the model to accommodate additional pathogens, practices, and commodities to assess the impact of newly identified risks such as newly identified problematic practices, emerging pathogens, or products. 
  • Measuring the impact of newly identified risks or newly modeled control strategies on how they change the total supply chain risk as compared to the risk uncontrolled by current practices.

Microplasma-based Far-UVC light decontamination approaches for improving the safety of ready-to-eat meat products

Our group will colaborate with PI (Yi-Cheng Wang, profile) on a 2 year project funded by USDA NIFA

The long-term goal of this project is to develop a revolutionary, yet inexpensive and easy-to-use, decontamination technique, whereby retailers and other stakeholders can readily minimize cross-contamination and improve food safety. This will ultimately benefit the American people by increasing the availability and accessibility of safe and nutritious food. However, additional research must be done if we are to understand and better exploit this emerging technology. The objectives on the way to achieving this goal are as follows.

  • Evaluate the efficacy of far-UVC light for inactivating bacteria in buffer and on food-contact surfaces
  • Evaluate the efficacy of microplasma-based far-UVC light for decontaminating real foods.
  • Evaluate the quality of foods before and after far-UVC light treatment

Risk Assessment Comparing Alternative Approaches to Regulating Salmonella in Poultry by Public Health Impact Factors

A 1-year and 3 month project funded by US poultry:

The hypotheses of this project are:

  • Most illnesses from Salmonella in poultry are due to consumption of products with relatively high levels of contamination, e.g., > 1 CFU/g, of high-risk serotypes, e.g., Typhimurium.
  • Interventions based on identifying and controlling higher levels of contamination and higher-risk serotypes will result in more targeted effects than prevalence-based interventions, creating
    • Greater protection of public health (fewer predicted illnesses)
    • Greater benefit-cost ratios (less product rework, fewer recalls)

The project will test these hypotheses with the following objectives:

  • Objective 1: Build a farm-to-fork quantitative microbial risk assessment of Salmonella subtypes in poultry products incorporating different production strategies which will allow for assessment of the public heath impact of different interventions, performance standards, and regulations
  • Objective 2: Use the risk assessment to assess the likely impact on foodborne disease of interventions, performance standards, and regulations targeting Salmonella levels and/or specific strains.

Testing for Enterococcus faceium reduction during corn wet milling dry product production

A 10-week project funded by CRA Corn Refiners Association:Corn Refiners rebrands with new logo, website | TheFencePost.com

The hypothesis tested in this project is that pilot-scale adaptations of industrially relevant unit operations of steeping, peroxide treatment, and drying, reduce counts of the indicator organism Enterococcus faecium in inoculated challenge studies. The specific objectives to test this hypothesis are:

  1. Conduct an E. faecium inoculated challenge study for production of dry powders at pilot-scale using a corn wet milling unit operations varying steeping, peroxide, and drying parameters.
  2. Count the surviving population of E. faecium at each unit operation

Simulating Powdered Product Sampling to Improve Food Safety Sampling Plans

A 1-year and 3 month project funded by IAFNS: 

The overall objective of this project is to build a simulation for powdered product testing.This work would provide not just comprehensive guidance on generic powder plans, but a tool for industry to assess their specific concerns when working to improve their food safety testing plans. The objectives of the project are:

  • Leverage an existing bulk product simulation model developed by our lab to model
    powder sampling for microbiological safety and validate against academic data..
  • Benchmark the ability of existing industry sampling plans to detect food safety
    and quality hazards at relevant prevalence and levels.
  • Develop a web-based graphical user interface so that producers could assess
    sampling plans for their own processes and suppliers could develop science-based requirements to manage specific risks

More information can be found on the funder’s website.

Advancing Food Recovery in K-12 School Cafeterias by Removing Food Safety and Operational Barriers of Share Tables

Our group is a co-PI (Lead PI is Dr. Prescott, Link to the Prescott Lab ) on this three year research and Extension project funded by:

Our overall goal is to address the food safety and operational concerns of stakeholders that are limiting share table food recovery. We will achieve this goal with four objectives:

  • Objective 1. Conduct qualitative interviews with health inspectors to identify the perceived food safety risks that are informing restrictive share table policies: Research
  • Objective 2. Conduct a Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment (QMRA) of foodborne disease risk due to the consumption of share table food items to address stakeholder food safety concerns and identify best food-safety practices: Research *Our group’s main contribution*
  • Objective 3. Develop share table resources in collaboration with key stakeholders and use a train-the-trainer model to pilot them across approximately 60 schools in the FNS Midwest Region: Extension.
  • Objective 4. Launch and evaluate a national dissemination of our research findings and share table resources to key stakeholders via social media marketing and online professional development dissemination: Extension

More information can be found in the funder’s database.

Aggregative Sampling for Powerful Preharvest Leafy Green Food Safety Testing

A three year project funded by:

The overall objective of this project is to demonstrate and validate that aggregative swab sampling can be used for powerful preharvest leafy green food safety testing that will ultimately allow producers to better protect public health by identifying adulterating pathogens before they enter the food supply.

  • Develop aggregative sampling for preharvest food safety testing and determine its power to detect bacterial hazards using inoculated field trials.
  • Validate the power of aggregative sampling to detect bacterial foodborne pathogens by comparing to composite grab sampling in commercial fields with previous pathogen positive test results

More information can be found in the funder’s database.

Digital farm-to-facility food safety testing optimization

A two year project funded by the:

With the following 4 objectives:

  • Build a Field-to-Facility generic supply chain model of produce safety testing.
  • Adapt the supply chain and collect parameters to represent a variety of commodities with distinct risk profiles and risk-management options.
  • Optimize testing across the supply chain of each commodity incorporating representative testing programs at primary production, harvesting, receiving, processing, and packing and assessing their impact to manage safety.

More information on the project can be found in the funder’s database.