<p>The objectives of this project are to:</p><p>Objective I. Elucidate foodborne pathogen contamination patterns and persistence in retail food systems.</p><p>Objective II. Develop, implement, and test practical and feasible control strategies in select establishments to (i) foodborne pathogens in retail food systems and (ii) reduce cross-contamination.</p><p>Objective III. Assess virulence potential of foodborne pathogens from retail food systems. Our long-term goal is to foundational data that will (i) assist in the identification of food safety hazards in produce at retail and (ii) elucidate effective and practice mitigation strategies to control foodborne pathogens in retail food systems. </p>
Foodborne pathogens remain concerns due to their ability to cause severe human disease and their common presence in environments from farm to fork. USDA-ERS estimate costs resulting from listeriosis and salmonellosis to exceed $2.8M and $3.7M, respectively (USDA-ERS, 2014); these estimates do not include production costs (e.g., routine testing, recalls) or other cost associated with prevention. There has been no significant reduction in the number of foodborne illness cases caused by major pathogens (e.g. Salmonella) compared to baseline data collected in 2006 (CDC, 2013). This trend indicates that lesser known food vehicles or food handling environments may be responsible for more cases of foodborne disease than currently estimated. The most recent estimates of human foodborne disease indicate that non-typhoidal Salmonella serotypes cause approx. 1 million cases resulting in 378 deaths and 11% of the overall burden of foodborne disease in the United States (Scallan et al., 2011). While consumption of undercooked poultry and poultry products or foods cross-contaminated with raw poultry and/or products remains among the most likely sources of foodborne salmonellosis (Gould et al., 2013), Salmonella is also estimated to cause approximately 50% of produce-associated illnesses and be responsible for the majority of produce-associated outbreaks in the US (Strawn, et al., 2014).