<OL> <LI> To identify target pathogens and to understand surface (processing interface microbiology as well as post-intevention microflora changes; <LI> To evaluate new processing and packaging technologies (e.g., pulsed light energy, high frequency ultrasound, and gamma irradiation as a means of reducing the microbial load on aquaculture products); <LI> Toimprove nucleic acid amplification technologies for rapid detection of foodborne pathogens and to identify the effects of sub-lethal stress on bacterial resistance and virulence factor expression; <LI> To evaluate the virulence of Listeria monocytogens and selected other foodborne pathogens, especailly Campylobacter spp.; <LI> To evaluate application of antimicrobial agents in pre-chill, chill or post-chill inactivation of pathogens on aquaculture species in commercial processing plants and to evaluate safety of extended shelf life products;<LI> To generate sound risk assessment data for establishing/modifying HACCP regulations and to reduce/eliminate HACCP problems in the aquaculture industry;<LI> To develop methods for detecting phytoestrogens and to evaluate the accumulation of phytoestrogens in aquacultrue food species fed soybean-based products.
Non-Technical Summary: Due to current federal reulations and the high indicidence of foodborne illness, there is a need to control food safety hazards in aquaculture food products. <P> Approach: Identification and control of pathogens inherent in catfish, aquaculture and shellfish processing are needed. Since stainless steel is the primary food contact surface, a thorough understanding of possible biofilms (an their removal) is necessary. A thorough study will be made of the interaction of microbes with equipment surfaces. With many technological advances as possible alternatives to traditional processing/packaging techniques, the following will be investigated: pulsed light energy, high frequency ultrasound and gamma irradiation. Possible combination will be examined as a means of reducing/controlling microbial loads. An emphasis will be made on rapid detection of foodborne pathogens. Nucleic acid amplification technologies will be enhanced to rapidly detect and ensure viability of cells. The effect on bacterial resistance and virulence will be evaluated followng sublethal processing stresses. Virulence factors will be studied for key foodborne pathogens, to include Campylobacter spp. and Listerial monocytogenes. In addition, a thorough investigation of a battery of antimicrobial agents will be made. These agents will be used in pre-chill, chill and post-chill applications in aquaculture commercial processing operations. Special emphasis will be paid to extended shelf-life products. Risk analysis and HACCP are critical to ensuring the safety of aquaculture and related products. Current regulations need to be based on sound data to verify that proper crictical control points have been identified and are being accurately monitored/controlled. Control of aquacultural products begin with growing conditions which include feed and feed regimens. Soybean-based products contain phytoestrogens which could accumulate in the finished product tissue This will be investigated.