Food Microbiology and Food Safety
K-State's food microbiology program addresses issues affecting the quality and safety of food products from the farm-to-fork. This program is a part of the Department of Animal Sciences and Industry. Pre-harvest research is defining programs at the farm level that improve the microbial status of final products. Processing technologies such as irradiation, thermal treatments, chemical washing, and Steam Pasteurization are investigated for food decontamination purposes. These developments are transferred to the food industry and their performances verified by K-State food safety researchers.
In addition, K-State is internationally recognized for its development of rapid and automated microbial detection systems and training programs in this subject area. Students gain extensive practical training in concepts such as Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point programs and risk assessment/management that prepare them for exciting careers in the industry.
A Biosafety Level 2 pilot processing facility is available to conduct pathogen inoculated food processing studies. The facility is refrigerated and is equipped with pilot processing equipment including meat grinders, stuffers, pathogen inoculation containment cabinet, steam pasteurization equipment, charbroiling grill, blade tenderization unit, walk-in coolers, and upright refrigerators/freezers, and vacuum/modified atmosphere package equipment dedicated to pathogen studies. Additionally, a state-of-the-art smokehouse and drying room has been incorporated into the facility to allow process validation studies to meet USDA-FSIS regulations for pathogen reduction in dry and semi-dry fermented sausages and other cured meat products. A recently acquired National Instruments LabView® data acquisition system provides for accurate and continuous temperature and pH monitoring of products on up to 36 channels during these studies.
A Biosafety Level 2 aseptic processing lab includes a custom designed post-process pasteurization system for conducting pathogen studies on ready-to-eat food products such as hot dogs.