Food safety has been a nationally and internationally recognized cornerstone of the FST research program since the department was established.  Expansion of the program into epidemiological research has provided opportunities for new partnerships and connected research areas. Faculty and staff expertise have also been instrumental in addressing food safety issues in the seafood, minimally processed fruits and vegetables, peanut and other industry sectors.

Emphasis Areas

  • Understanding the role of sub-lethal stresses encountered during food processing on the survival, persistence and virulence of food-borne pathogens;
  • Development of interventions to prevent food contamination by food-borne pathogens during pre-harvest, post-harvest, and food preparation;
  • Characterizing the interactions of food-borne pathogens with native microbiota, with the purpose of identifying interactions that will naturally reduce growth of pathogens or improve recovery of the host;
  • Examining the effect of functional foods on gastrointestinal bacterial diversity;
  • Identifying mechanisms of disease transmission in agricultural environments;
  • Development of more selective or sensitive detection methodologies to examine food-borne pathogens in agricultural waste and food commodities; and
  • Discovery of novel antimicrobial compounds extracted from natural sources that can be used to reduce pathogenic and spoilage microorganisms in food systems.