Dr. Huang’s Food Safety Research

Food safety continues to be a major issue to the food industry and consumers. In the United States alone, there are an estimated 47 million illnesses, 12,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths caused by food-borne pathogens. In addition to public health consequences, product contamination or adulteration can lead to product recalls, which can lead to decreased consumer confidence and loss of markets.  Therefore, the food industry continues to look for effective food safety knowledge and practices. Our faculty and students have been intensively involved in studying current food safety issues and share their research findings through seminars, special classes, meeting and conference presentations, as well as through Extension programs.

Dr. Tung-shi Huang, professor of food safety/food microbiology, is working on the development of rapid detection and disinfection food-borne pathogens, such as Listeria monocytogenes, E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella, and Staphylococcus aureus. Rapid detection is achieved through the use of antibodies with special sample preparation procedures of enrichment and immuno-magnetic beads concentration; as a result, the detection of food-borne pathogens within several hours will become feasible.  Research is also being conducted to develop non-thermal treatments to reduce the food contamination. In particular, the use of recombinant proteins, edible mushroom extract, chlorine dioxide, electrolyzed water and ultra-sonication, individually or in combination, are being evaluated as potential means to reduce or eliminate bacterial pathogens in foods while maintaining food quality and flavor. These non-thermal treatments potentially offer many advantages over traditional heat treatments, especially in ready-to-eat foods. Related work is also being done to explore the antimicrobial activities and toxicities of chlorinated fabric materials to seek the feasibility of applying this technology to food packaging materials.