Research Overview & Accomplishments
Both pre- and post- harvest food safety issues are addressed in the laboratory which is part of the International Center for Food Industry Excellence (ICFIE). ICFIE is a collaborative center with faculty members from the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources and College of Human Sciences. There are four emphasis areas; 1) Food Safety, 2) Value-Added Processing, 3) Nutrition and 4) Outreach and Education.
We have food safety facilities that are unmatched by any laboratory in the world with a pathogen processing laboratory in the food technology building that has equipment that duplicates equipment in the meat laboratory so we can evaluate the impact of interventions on both the safety and the product quality. The retail display cases in the laboratory allow us to study pathogen behavior under simulated industry conditions.
PRE-HARVEST FOOD SAFETY PROJECTS & HIGHLIGHTS
- A lactobacillus-based direct-fed microbial was developed that reduces the E. coli O157:H7 prevalence in cattle by 60% in the manure and 80% on the hides.
- We have studied the emergence of antimicrobial drug resistance in cattle as a result of feeding sub-therapeutic antibiotics to cattle, a common practice in the industry to maintain the health of the animals. The sub-therapeutic doses had no increased amount of drug resistance in commensal organisms in the cattle compared to those not fed the antibiotics
- Intervention methods are currently being investigated to reduce the development of
Johnes disease in dairy cattle using a mouse model. This research is done in collaboration
with the National Animal Disease laboratories in Ames, Iowa.
POST-HARVEST FOOD SAFETY PROEJCTS & HIGHLIGHTS
- An intervention was developed that reduces E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella in beef and poultry products. The product has received FDA and USDA approval and pilot tests are underway by industry groups.
- We are studying interventions to reduce the prevalence of E. coli O157:H7 in spinach.
- Research on Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) has been used for congressional testimony
to support the use of the technology by the meat industry.
EDUCATIONAL & OUTREACH EFFORTS
- A large educational and research effort is underway with the Mexican Meat Industry in collaboration with the US Meat Export Federation. This work will establish pathogen baselines in Mexican meat markets. Additionally, we are training the industry in food safety and HACCP.
- Texas Tech will be the location of the pre-harvest food safety demonstration project. This project involves training in the classroom and through demonstrations for the cattle industry on pre-harvest food safety issues.
- Collaborative training of graduate students with multiple disciplines at TTU/TTUHSC campuses.