Improve Food Safety for All Americans

Research to keep our food pure


Improving consumer’s preparedness to respond to emergencies and foodborne bioterrorism

Proteomic analysis of campylobacter surface antigens for developing an innovative fingerprinting scheme

Characterizing senior's knowledge and use of food safety practices to develop educational materials targeted to at-risk demographic groups

An innovative approach for integrating health care providers into food borne illness prevention for older adults

Characterization of antibiotic-resistant foodborne pathogens in fresh produce

Characterizing antibiotic-resistant foodborne pathogens in domestic kitchens and retail foods

Impact of consumer efforts to prevent cross contamination during storage of refrigerated foods

 


 

Improving consumer’s preparedness to respond to emergencies and foodborne bioterrorism
Dr. S. Godwin, L. Speller-Henderson
Natural disasters or other events leading to loss of electrical power can endanger the safety of refrigerated and/or frozen foods. Additionally, concerns about foodborne bioterrorism have been heightened in recent years. Consumers need to be prepared for such emergencies and the possibility of foodborne bioterrorism to have food available and keep food safe. This project assesses the extent to which consumers are following the recommended practices for food defense and emergency preparedness and explore the barriers and motivators to adopting the recommended practices. This information will help identify areas in which there are gaps in consumers knowledge and behavior, and provide valuable information for developing targeted educational materials to address these gaps.

Proteomic analysis of campylobacter surface antigens for developing an innovative fingerprinting scheme
Dr. F Chen, Dr. S. Zhou, Dr. S. Nahashon
The incidences of foodborne illness have prompted great public health concerns. There is an urgent need to explore new detection methods for food pathogens to facilitate implementation of preventive measurements and intervention strategies. This research will develop an innovative method utilizing phage-displayed recombinant antibodies for rapid detection and identification of Campylobacter, the leading cause of bacterial diarrheal illness in the United States. We apply proteomic approaches to study Campylobacter surface antigens, to screen a phage displayed antibody library, and to develop an innovative technology for immunochemical fingerprinting of Campylobacter. In addition, we conduct seminars on proteomic applications and hand-on workshops on laboratory techniques for faculty and graduate students. Results from this project will enable us to secure support funding from interested industrial partners and to continue research activities to validate the developed technology and to incorporate it into microarray, biosensor and other advanced instrumentations to improve current detection methodology.

Characterizing senior's knowledge and use of food safety practices to develop educational materials targeted to at-risk demographic groups
Dr. S. Godwin
In the past decade, the number of adults aged 65 years and older has increased ten percent in the United States. Because of their weakened immune system, older adults are at a higher risk for foodborne illness and are more likely than any other age group to experience serious symptoms, require hospitalization, or even die as a result of the infection. This project examines whether there are differences in food safety knowledge and practices among seniors in different demographic subgroups (e.g., education level, socio-economic status, geographic location, age range, or culture), and will measure the effectiveness of targeted educational initiatives delivered to those subgroups that exhibit limited knowledge and/or exhibit risky behaviors.

An innovative approach for integrating health care providers into food borne illness prevention for older adults
Dr. S. Godwin, L. Speller-Henderson
The incidence and rate of morbidity and mortality associated with food borne illnesses increases with age. As the number of persons living to older ages increases, it is important to ensure that this at-risk population and those who provide care for them have access to quality food safety education. This study builds on research we conducted with older adults which identified health care providers as a desired source of information on food safety. However, previous research suggests that physicians who treat patients at high risk for food borne illness do not routinely provide information on food safety or possible resulting illnesses. The overall goal of this project is to integrate food safety education into preventive health care for adults aged 60 and older. This goal will be accomplished in three phases: (1) conduct focus groups and in-depth interviews to understand health care providers' knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors regarding food safety education for older adults; (2) develop instructional materials on food safety for health care providers who deliver preventive health care to older adults and innovative educational materials that health care providers can distribute to older adults as part of preventive health care; and (3) disseminate and evaluate the effectiveness of the educational materials distributed to health care providers and older adults. Equipping health care providers with information on food borne illness prevention and working with them to disseminate this information to older adults will result in safer food consumption and handling practices among older adults.

Characterization of antibiotic-resistant foodborne pathogens in fresh produce
Dr. A. Kilonzo-Nthenge, Dr. S. Nahashon, Dr. R. Bullock
In the last three decades, the number of disease outbreaks caused by foodborne pathogens associated with fresh produce has become a major concern in the United States. The goal of this project is to determine the persistence of antibiotic resistant foodborne pathogens in fresh produce from farm and retail stores, and to deliver educational programs on safe handling of fresh produce and judicious use of antibiotics. Specific objectives are to: (1) isolate and characterize microorganisms in fresh produce from retail stores and farms; (2) assess the occurrence and compare profiles, patterns, and persistence of antibiotic-resistant pathogenic microorganisms during winter, spring, and summer seasons in soils, irrigation water, raw manure, fresh produce; (3) educate farmers and consumers on hygienic ways of growing, handling and storing fresh produce and judicious use of antibiotics; and (4) increase undergraduate and graduate student participation in food safety research and outreach. Anticipated impacts include: (1) provision of scientific data to USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, Food and Drug Administration, and Centers for Disease Control; (2) improved hygienic fresh produce handling practices by farmers, consumers and judicious use of antibiotics on farms; (3) a proficient food safety workforce for the 21st century; and (4) a stronger partnership between Tennessee State University, USDA and FDA agencies in fresh produce safety research. The project complements continuing efforts at TSU to strengthen food safety research and outreach.

Characterizing antibiotic-resistant foodborne pathogens in domestic kitchens and retail foods
Dr. A. Kilonzo-Nthenge, Dr. S. Godwin, Dr. F.C. Chen
During the past decade, the threat of microbial resistance to antibiotics, especially those associated with foodborne illnesses, has become increasingly alarming. The purpose of this research is to ascertain the occurrence of pathogenic microorganisms in the domestic kitchen environment, retail foods, animal farms, and slaughterhouses and the possible resistance of these microorganisms to antibiotics. Consumers will be made aware of possible antibiotic resistant microorganism clusters in the eco-system and be educated on safe hygienic food handling practices.

Impact of consumer efforts to prevent cross contamination during storage of refrigerated foods
Dr. F. Chen, Dr. S. Godwin
Home refrigerators can harbor pathogenic bacteria that pose a potential to contaminate food stored in the refrigerator. Consumers should be informed about safe handling of refrigerated foods and proper cleaning of home refrigerators to reduce the risk of food contaminations. However, despite numerous studies on consumer refrigeration practices, the impact on consumer health resulting from the manner in which foods are stored in the home remains to be fully assessed. Using a combination of microbiological studies and in-home observations and surveys, this project quatifies the risk of mishandling and cross contaminating of foods, the dynamics of microbial survival and growth, as well as factors which affect bacterial transfer efficiency during refrigerator storage. In response to the findings, risk communication messages appropriate for consumers will be developed and disseminated to the public in order to minimize the risk of food-borne illnesses associated with improper handling and storage of refrigerated foods in the home.

 






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