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Published On: Thu, Dec 6th, 2012

UGA food scientist, Joseph Frank, awarded $500,000 USDA grant to study salmonella risks

A University of Georgia food scientist received one of 17 research grants funded by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture to study the risks associated with salmonella in dry and ready-to-eat foods, according to a University news release Monday.

Image/CDC

Dr. Joseph F. Frank, a professor with the Department of Food Science & Technology at the University of Georgia says, “Salmonella is a bacterium that causes an estimated 1 million cases of foodborne illness in the U.S. each year. Close to 20,000 people are hospitalized, and some 400 die due to salmonellosis each year.”

The 17 USDA projects aim to improve food safety by helping control microbial and chemical contamination in various foods.

Poultry, eggs, raw sprouts and unpasteurized juices are common sources of salmonellosis. Cooking and pasteurization kill the bacterium in these foods-but not in dry and ready-to-eat foods, according to the release.

“When salmonella gets in these foods like dairy powders and infant formula, it isn’t able to grow up, but it doesn’t die every quickly. It tends to survive for very lengthy periods of time,” Frank said. “Salmonella can be in the marketing process and on the shelves for months before people consume it and get sick.”

“These are ready-to-eat foods, and they are shelf stable foods,” Frank said. “So they don’t spoil, but the salmonella can be in there and can survive for many months. Then whoever eats that food is at risk.”

Dr. Franks will apply the $499,998 grant to determine the chemistry makeup of  dry and ready-to-eat foods and how that affects the survival of salmonella.

“We don’t understand why it dies faster in some foods than others,” he said. “We plan to look at the characteristics of these dry foods and try to predict the survival of salmonella in these foods.”

His overall goal is to develop predictive models, or a risk assessment, for salmonella survival in dry and/or ready-to-eat foods.

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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