Food Microbiology Current Topics of Investigation

  • Evaluating the use of process water as a marker to determine the contamination status of fresh-cut leafy greens contaminated with E. coli O157:H7.
  • Assessing the effects of initial level of contamination, temperature, time, indigenous microflora, sanitizing rinses and package atmosphere on the behavior of E. coli O157:H7 in packaged leafy greens.
  • Identifying combinations of time and temperature that may stimulate spores of C. botulinum to germinate and produce toxin under environmental conditions where these spores would normally remain dormant and that may occur during processing or storage, which may increase the risk of botulism in certain products.
  • Examining the effects of various temperatures on the survival of viruses in fruits and vegetables to enhance understanding of virus contamination in produce and allow better control of infections associated with foodborne viruses.
  • Comparing the effects of various cleaning procedures, including clean-out- of-place (COP) systems with combined with physical augmentation (high-powered ultrasound, HPU) to remove hard-to- clean equipment items contaminated with Bacillus spores embedded in complex food matrices.
  • Comparing the most effective cleaning agent on the most difficult to remove food matrix embedded with B. cereus and B. thuringiensis spores, with and without use of high-powered ultrasound, and validating optimal CIP cleaning and sanitizing conditions using B. anthracis wild strains.
  • Investigating the survival and thermal resistance of desiccated Salmonella in low moisture foods and dry processing environments, such as peanut butter, using microbiological and molecular approaches to identify extrinsic and intrinsic factors that regulate Salmonella resistance and survival under long-term starvation and desiccation stresses.
  • Conducting comparative genomic analysis of Listeria monocytogenes for survival in food processing environments.
  • Determining the transfer rate of Salmonella sp. from contaminated nut butters to food contact materials and the appropriate cleaning strategies for food contact materials used in nut butter processing and relative efficacy in the removal/destruction of Salmonella
  • Investigating norovirus cross-contamination during food service procedures used in the preparation of fresh produce.

Food Microbiology Research Projects

  • Advanced Imaging Techniques to Examine Virus Attachment to Abiotic Surfaces Associated with Food Service and Processing
  • Building Capacity to Control Viral Foodborne Disease: A Translational, Multidisciplanary Approach
  • Challenge Test on Various Food Matrices with Non-Proteolytic Clostridium botulinum and Bacillus cereus
  • Detection of Botulinum Neurotoxin Using Fret-Based Quantum Dot Sensors II
  • Determination of the germination, growth and toxin production potential of Clostridium botulinum in fresh coconut water
  • Developing Validation Strategies for Fresh-Cut Produce Washing
  • Enhance Sprouts Food Safety
  • Enumeration, survival, and growth of Listeria monocytogenes in ice cream
  • Establishing the Endopeptidase-MS Method as a Screening Method for Botulinum Neurotoxins in Media and Foods
  • Framework for evaluating the effectiveness of sprout seed treatments - factors to consider
  • Growth and Survival of Salmonella during processing of partially sprouted seed products and chia powders
  • Inoculation Protocols for Low Moisture Foods
  • Listeria Survival and Growth in Fresh Cut Vegetables
  • Mechanisms of Bacterial Pathogen Internalization into Fresh and Fresh-Cut Fruits
  • Mitigation of Norovirus Surrogates in Berries by Minimal Processes of Freeze Drying and High Hydrostatic Pressure Treatment
  • Relationship of Storage Temperature and Water Activity on the Survival of Salmonella during Drying and Storage of Spices And/Or Botanical Products
  • Thermal and Nonthermal Resistance of Salmonella Enterica and Shiga-Toxin Producing Escherichia Coli in Low-Moisture Foods

Key Staff Members and Contact Information

Research Assistant Professor, IIT
708-563-8170
Scientist (Microbiologist), Assistant Professor, IIT
708.563.8824
Postdoctoral Research Fellow, IIT
708.563.8194
Director, Center for Processing Innovation, Associate Professor, IIT
708.563.8277
Director, Business Development, Adjunct Industry Professor, IIT
708.563.8175
Chief, Food Technology Branch, FDA
708.924.0645
IFSH Associate Director, Professor of Food Science, IIT
708.563.8287
Principal Scientist/Associate Professor of Biology, IIT
708.563.2980