Summary of Awards to Date

Detection and control of food borne microbial pathogens for improved food safety.

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Oct. 1, 2009 - Sep. 30, 2014

Award Number


Funding Agency

Center for Produce Safety


Bruce M. Applegate, Ph.D.
Purdue University


Morgan, M.T.


Foodborne pathogens are a serious concern in many fresh and minimally-processed foods. Several approaches are possible for addressing this concern. In this project, one approach is the development of rapid methods to detect or control pathogens in the food product. Another approach is to develop methods to track the survival and growth of bacteria throughout the production, harvest, processing, and retail sales to understand those factors affecting the bacterial populations when product reaches the consumer. This project will pursue the development of genetically modified viruses called bacteriophage, for detecting and controlling pathogens on foods, processing equipment, or in the food package. As a result of this project, better knowledge of the factors that affect survival and control of foodborne bacteria on surfaces of produce should be gained. Bacteria-specific viruses immobilized onto food package surfaces will be evaluated for effectiveness in detecting and controlling bacteria.

OBJECTIVES: The overall goal of the project is to investigate methods to detect and control foodborne pathogens Salmonella spp., Escherichia coli O157:H7, Listeria monocytogenes, and Campylobacter jejuni and to understand key parameters that allow their persistence in the environment and resistance to decontamination or control procedures. The recombinant bioluminescent pathogens will provide insight into factors affecting survival, growth, contamination, and activity of natural food-borne pathogens throughout production, processing and packaging. Bioluminescent bacteria and recombinant bacteriophage will be used to evaluate detection and control strategies for the target foodborne pathogens. UV and E-beam assisted methods for immobilizing bacteriophage will be optimized for detection and control of bacteria in food packages. Specific Objectives include: 1)construct pathogen-specific recombinant bacteriophage to identify the infected host and develop large scale production strategies for the resultant phage, 2) investigate factors affecting survival and control of foodborne bacteria in fresh produce, minimally-processed foods, or processing equipment, 3) evaluate methods to immobilize bacteriophage (or other antimicrobials) for detection and control of pathogens. Expected Outputs from this project include: recombinant bacteriophage for detection of foodborne pathogens, methods to produce and purify large numbers of phage, experiments to identify factors affecting survival and control of bacteria in fresh produce, minimally-processed foods, or processing equipment, methods to immobilize phage onto packaging materials, and experiments to determine the activity of immobilized phage.