<ol> <li>Reduce heating requirements for meat products while ensuring microbiological safety: (a) determine the impact of food formulation variables on thermal inactivation of foodborne pathogens, (b) assess approaches to analyze the data from inactivation studies;
<li>Elucidate the cellular and molecular mechanism of heat resistance of pathogens;
<li>Determine that cooling cooked products remain pathogen-free; and
<li>Develop strategies for performing risk assessment on cooked foods.</ol>
Define the heat treatment required to achieve a specified lethality for spores and vegetative cells of food borne pathogens, while avoiding heating that negatively impacts product quality. Specifically, assess the interactions of food and environmental factors (temperature, pH, sodium chloride level, and phosphate level and identity) on thermal destruction of bacterial pathogens. Elucidate the mechanism of heat resistance in pathogenic spores; identify targets of heat damage such as nucleic acids, proteins and enzymes, and membranes. Study the relationship between environmental stresses such as pH, salt levels, etc. and enhanced thermal tolerance of vegetative cells. Evaluate excessive time in cooling of heated products to determine if the product remains safe with regard to Clostridium perfringens and Clostridium botulinum growth.