Summary of Awards to Date

Foodborne pathogen persistence: from identification of risk factors to communication of control strategies.

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Sep. 1, 2010 - Aug. 31, 2010

Award Number


Funding Agency

Center for Produce Safety

Amount Awarded



Kendra Nightingale, Ph.D.
Colorado State University


Sofos, J., and Wiedmann, M.


More than 1,000 of 1,800 deaths caused by known foodborne pathogens can be attributed to Escherichia coli O157, Listeria monocytogenes, and Salmonella. "DNA fingerprinting" or molecular subtyping differentiates isolates beyond the species and serotype level and molecular subtyping is routinely to monitor foodborne pathogen transmission dynamics. Recent multistate outbreaks of foodborne illness attributed to cross-contamination of foods by Listeria monocytogenes or Salmonella strains that persisted in the food processing plant environment for extended periods highlight the continued need for research and training on L. monocytogenes persistence and knowledge gaps regarding Salmonella and Escherichia coli O157 persistence. The overall goal of this project is to integrate applied research and outreach to augment knowledge regarding pathogen persistence. Combined field studies and molecular subtyping will be performed to identify L. monocytogenes, Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7 strains that persist in the food processing plant environment to probe risk factors for persistence and phenotypes that may contribute to persistence. In order to accomplish this overall goal, we will (i) conduct longitudinal studies in fresh meat, RTE meat and smoked seafood processing plants to detect L. monocytogenes, Salmonella and E. coli O157 in the plant environment and associated food products, (ii) subtype isolates to identify persistent strains, elucidate persistent strain transmission patterns and identify risk factors for persistence, (iii) compare the ability of persistent and transient strains representing each target pathogen to adhere to food contact surfaces and resist sanitizers and (iv) extend knowledge regarding persistence of pathogens in food processing plants, including risk factors for persistence and mitigation strategies to control persistence. Knowledge gained will be disseminated to food processors and trainers through a series of outreach activities designed to provide fundamental knowledge regarding pathogen persistence, identification of persistent strains and monitoring transmission patterns, risk factors for persistence and mitigation strategies to control persistence.