Our department's food safety research opportunities include food selection, preparation, home processing, storage, and serving of safe food to the consumer.

Key Investigators

Current Projects

Investigators:
Andress, Elizabeth; Harrison, Judy; Harrison, Mark

Description:
The practice of home food preservation has experienced very high interest and activity in the last few years. Surveys show risky food processing practices do exist in the population as do the needs for continual education and outreach, as well as applied research. USDA and the nationwide Cooperative Extension System (CES) have more than a century of recognition as the leading sources for research-based consumer recommendations. A previously established National Center for Home Food Preservation (NCHFP) website is extremely popular as a supporting resource for the CES and the public, receiving 1.18 million unique visitors per year. This project addresses integrated Extension and research goals for promoting safe food handling through home processing and preservation; it is multidisciplinary and multi-state. This project will update and maintain the existing NCHFP website, conduct webinars for Extension and other educators, conduct applied research projects related to safe use of an atmospheric steam canner for small batch canning as well as the functioning of home canning lid systems, and develop, pilot test and evaluate a youth food preservation curriculum suitable for delivery in a variety of non-formal community 4-H and other workshop settings.

Funding Source:
NIFA-USDA

Investigators:
Harrison, Judy; Gaskin, Julia; Harrison, Mark; Cannon, Jennifer; Boyer, Renee; Zehnder, Geoff

Description:
As more fresh produce is consumed, more cases of foodborne illness have been associated with it. Consumers consider organic and locally grown as healthier, safer alternatives than mass-produced products. Organic produce sales have increased 20% annually since 1990. U.S. farmers market numbers increased to over 7,000 in 2011 due to interest in buying directly from the farm. Since small farms that typically supply these markets may not have training, personnel or resources to develop food safety plans, are these products safer? This project: 1) examines conditions on small farms and in markets and how those conditions could affect bacterial and viral contamination of produce 2) determines effects of soil management practices on survival of pathogens 3) examines postharvest handling techniques to reduce microbial risk 4) develops educational materials and trains farmers and market managers.

Funding Source:
USDA-NIFA