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National Center for Electron Beam Research - Food Safety

Investigators
Pillai, Suresh
Institutions
Texas A&M University
Start date
2010
End date
2011
Objective
The National Center for Electron Beam Research (NCEBR) at Texas A&M University is a one-of-a-kind facility anywhere in the world, serving as an un-paralleled platform for academic, government, and industry scientists to carry out strategic electronic pasteurization and sterilization research using electron beam (E-beam) and X-rays. The Center for Food Safety Center at Texas A&M University is involved in projects aimed at promoting food safety.

Funds from this USDA Special Grants application will allow the following:

  1. The E-Beam Center will provide E-Beam and X-ray electronic pasteurization resource for researchers from academia, government, and industry from around the United States.
  2. The E-Beam Center will identify the E-Beam and X-ray based inactivation kinetics of Norovirus (using murine norovirus as a surrogate) on spinach and lettuce.
  3. The Center for Food Safety will determine the ability of Salmonella Saintpaul or a cocktail of Salmonella spp. isolates to survive and grow in jalapeno, serrano, and bell pepper extracts.
  4. The Center for Food Safety will study the effect of temperature on the ability of Salmonella Saintpaul or a cocktail of Salmonella spp. isolates to survive and grow on the surface of jalapeno serrano and bell peppers.
  5. The E-Beam Center will train graduate students in using E-Beam and X-ray for food safety, whereas the Center for Food Safety will train graduate students on methods for improving the safety of fresh produce.
  6. The E-Beam Center will partner with investigators from academia, industry and government agencies to secure additional resources for research, teaching, and outreach activities. Peer-reviewed publications, meeting abstracts and presentations, and obtaining additional resources for further advancement of the activities will be used as indicators of success and relevancy of the proposed project.
More information
Non-Technical Summary: The overall objective of this proposal is to support the activities at the National Center for Electron Beam Research (NCEBR) and the Center for Food Safety at Texas A&M University. The NCEBR serves as an un-biased venue for academic, government, and industry scientists to carry out strategic electronic pasteurization and sterilization research using electron beam (E-beam) and X-rays. The Center for Food Safety at Texas A&M University is involved in a variety of projects aimed at promoting food safety. The NCEBR is a one-of-a-kind research facility with E-beam and X-ray capability on the Texas A&M University campus in College Station, Texas. This Special Research grant application is aimed at synergizing the activities of the two centers to make a significant impact on the safety of fresh cut produce in the United States. The E-Beam Center will focus its activities at expanding the research and development of food irradiation technologies. The Center for Food Safety will focus on understanding pathogen (Salmonella) survival and persistence in and on peppers.

Approach: Goal 1. The concept is that the National Center for Electron Beam Research at Texas A&M University given its one of a kind equipment and instrument infrastructure will act as a focal point for research, education, training and outreach activities related to the electronic pasteurization and its applications to foods, fresh produce, agricultural products as well as other materials. Goal 2: The focus of these studies will be to advance our current understanding of the susceptibility of a key enteric virus such as Norovirus on fresh produce. Since human noroviruses cannot be cultured readily in the laboratory, murine norovirus will be used as the surrogate. In addition to determining the inactivation kinetics, studies will also be performed to determine whether sensory attributes of the produce are affected at doses required to achieve virus inactivation. Goal 3. The focus of these studies will be to understand the potential for different types of peppers to sustain or support the growth of Salmonella spp. or to show antimicrobial activity against Salmonella spp. strains. The effect of all components of the pepper, without interference of the background microbiota will be tested by inoculating Salmonella spp. in sterile pepper homogenates. In case that the autoclave processing of the pepper homogenates might inactivate any growth promoting factor present in the peppers, non-autoclaved extracts will also be prepared and filter sterilized to test the growth and survival of Salmonella spp. in comparison with the growth/survival in the homogenates. Inoculum levels of 3-4 log CFU/ml will be used to enable the detection of subtle changes in populations regardless of whether the fate of the organism is to grow or to decrease. Goal 4. The focus of this objective is to understand how temperature in the field, during transportation and refrigerated storage will influence Salmonella spp. survival and growth on peppers. Goal 5. A key focus of the proposed activities is the training of graduate students to address the contemporary issues facing the nation in terms of food safety. A graduate level course will be offered in fall 2010 or spring 2011. This lecture laboratory course will deal with microbial responses to ionizing radiation, determining the inactivation kinetics of specific pathogens to E-beam and x-ray and dose-mapping of food products for E-beam and X-ray irradiation. Goal 6. The resources of the Center will be leveraged to secure additional funding from private, federal and state sources to pursue research and outreach activities. The Center will actively seek out researchers from across the United States and overseas to promote the use of the Center's facilities and infrastructure and advance the field of electronic pasteurization. The Center will continue to seek to establish itself as a credible and reliable resource to various government agencies, including the international community. The Center will team with outreach and educational professionals in making sure that the science and the technology is effectively communicated to the society at large.

Funding Source
Nat'l. Inst. of Food and Agriculture
Project source
View this project
Project number
TEX09431
Accession number
221614
Categories
Salmonella
Education and Training
Parasites
Natural Toxins
Viruses and Prions
Bacterial Pathogens
Chemical Contaminants