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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Molecular Characterization of Foodborne Pathogens Research Unit

Pina M. Fratamico, Research Leader
Barbara Hawkins, Program Support Assistant
Voice:  (215) 233-6611
Fax:  (215) 233-6581

In the Spotlight

 

Secretary's Honor Award for the Work on STECs

 

On September 12, 2012, Pina Fratamico, Marjorie Medina, Anna Porto-Fett, and Jamie Wasilenko of the ERRC received the Secretary’s Honor Award as members of the "STEC Team". The other members of the team on the group award are listed below. This award was under the "Category of Ensuring that all of America’s children have access to safe, nutritious, and balanced meals.

"The STEC Team” was nominated by the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, Office of Public Health Science under the Category of Ensuring that all of America’s children have access to safe, nutritious, and balanced meals.


Group Leaders: Denise Eblen and William Cray (FSIS)

Group Members: Flora Tsui, Harry Marks, Nora Pihkala, Meryl Silverman, Teresa Taylor, Jennifer Webb, Charles Williams, Priya Kadam, Nathan Bauer, Philip Bronstein, Victor Cook, William Cray, Uday Dessai, Denise Eblen, Peter Evans, Kristin Holt, Rachel Johnson, Janell Kause, Bonnie Kissler, Neelam Narang, Cathy Pentz, Mark Pratt, Lorenza Rozier, Wayne Schlosser, Mustafa Simmons, Glenn Tillman, Sarah Berg-Devney, Catherine Cochran, Pina Fratamico, Marjorie Medina, Anna Porto-Fett, Weilin Shelver, Jamie Wasilenko, Joseph M. Bosilevac, Sheila Novak"

The award was “For excellence in leadership to protect the U.S. food supply through timely development and implementation of a robust science-based program for controlling non-O157 Shiga toxin-producing E. coli in beef.

 

Congratulations to the STEC team!

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Olive oil’s health benefits? It’s a slippery question

By Katherine Tallmadge, Published: September 11

You feel good about using olive oil, right? You know it’s good for you, tasty and easy to use. Still, to get the most benefits — and the best bang for your buck – there’s more you should know.

“The health benefits of olive oil are 99 percent related to the presence of the phenolic compounds, not the oil itself,” says Nasir Malik, research plant physiologist at the U.S. Agriculture Department’s Agricultural Research Service.

Click here to read the full article!

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Carbon Availability Triggers Fungal Nitrogen Uptake and Transport in Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Symbiosis


Please read all about Dr. Gary Strahan and Dr. Phil Pfeffer's prestigious accomplishment published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1118650109

 

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Even E. coli have their very own "Gang of Six"

 

Although Escherichia coli O157:H7 gets all the bad press, it's not the only troublemaker in that family, so an ARS group that included research leader Pina Fratamico, molecular biologist Chin-Yi Chen, microbiologist Yanhong Liu, technician Terence Strobaugh Jr., computation biologist Xianghe Yan and former colleague Connie Briggs in our ARS Molecular Characterization of Foodborne Pathogens Research Unit at Wyndmoor, Pa., have created gene-based PCR tests to unmask "the Big Six," named E. coli 026, 045, 0103, 0111, 0121, and 0145. (4/12)

http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr/2011/110412.htm

 

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Preharvest Food Safety
Keeping Pathogens and Chemical Residues Out of Beef and Poultry

 

 
In efforts to develop new techniques to quickly and reliably identify pathogenic E. coli serogroups, microbiologist Pina Fratamico (left) and molecular biologist Yanhong Liu (center) view real-time PCR results from study samples as microbiologist Lori Bagi loads a thermal cycler with more samples for testing. (D2156-1)
 
Molecular biologist David Needleman (in the background) loads DNA to be sequenced in an automated DNA sequencer as microbiologist Pina Fratamico (center) and computational biologist Xianghe Yan view sequence data from E. coli 0145. (D2157-5)

 

The food you eat every day travels a long way from farm to fork, and dangers - in the form of foodborne pathogens or other contaminants - lurk along that road, waiting to hitch a ride on a lettuce leaf or a piece of beef or chicken.  Making sure our food is safe to eat is of paramount importance to Agricultural Research Service scientists across the country.  ARS research on food safety is multifaceted and wide ranging. 

 

Read all about it in the April 2011 issue of Research Magazine.

 

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Fast, easy, inexpensive, lightweight, portable...but no, it won't do windows

 

If, like little Shirley Temple, you "awake with a tummy ache," Salmonella bacteria could be to blame, but detecting this troublemaker's presence in eggs, meats, sprouts and other foods could be quicker, easier and less expensive in the future, thanks to an innovative instrument that microbiologist Pina Fratamico at our ARS Molecular Characterization of Foodborne Pathogens Unit in Wyndmoor, Pa., is developing with a high-tech startup company. (3/4)

 

http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/noi/110304.htm

 

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New Methods for Ensuring Food Safety

Microbiologist inspects antibody-coated magnetic beads and biologist analyzes DNA samples in their efforts to develop immunological, microbiological, and genetic-based methods for detection of Yersinia pestis in food: Click here for full photo caption.
Microbiologist George Paoli inspects antibody-coated magnetic beads and biologist Chandi Wijey analyzes DNA samples in their efforts to develop immunological, microbiological, and genetic-based methdos for detection of Yersinia pestis in food.  (D1452-1)

Good news for fans of raw cookie dough.  Researchers at ARS's Eastern Rgional Research Center (ERRC) in Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania, have filed a patent on technology that can further protect pasteurized liquid eggs from food safety threats.  These threats include both naturally occurring spoilage bacteria and pathogens such as Salmonella enteritidis, the primary cause of egg-related foodborne illness in the United States.  The technology has also been successfully applied to milk.

But don't go running for that dough just yet.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) still cautions against consuming any raw, unpasteurized eggs or products that contain them.

Read all about it in the May-June 2009 issue of Agricultural Research Magazine.

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New Methods for Detecting Listeria

From left, microbiologist, postdoctoral research associate, and chemist examine colonies of Listeria monocytogenes captured with immunomagnetic beads coated with single-chain antibodies specific for the pathogen: Click here for full photo caption.

From left, microbiologist George Paoli, postdoctoral research associate Lynn Kleina, and chemist Jeffrey Brewster examine colonies of Listeria monocytogenes captured with immunomagnet beads coated with single-chain antibodies specific for the pathogen. (D615-1)

Quick, accurate, cost-effective methods for detecting pathogenic bacteria are essential to ensuring a safe food supply.  ARS scientists are the Eastern Regional Research Center (ERRC) in Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania, are improving methods to detect foodborne pathogens like the deadly Listeria monocytogenes.

Read more about the research in the October 2006 issue of Agricultural Research Magazine.


Last Modified: 9/19/2012
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