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New Database Helps Monitor Food
Pathogens By Jim
February 9, 2004
The world's largest online database of information on how
pathogenic bacteria respond to different environmental conditions in food has
been established by scientists with the Agricultural Research Service and the
United Kingdom's Institute of Food
The database, called ComBase, is designed to help make risk
assessments and model development easier. ComBase software facilitates research
cooperation among scientists studying predictive microbiology. This growing
field estimates the behavior of microorganisms in response to environmental
conditions, including food production and processing operations from the farm
to the table.
Using the database, scientists can enter
data such as the temperature, acidity and available water, and then retrieve
all records that match the search criteria. The database already contains about
25,000 growth and survival data records.
ComBase is a project of the Center of Excellence in Microbial
Modeling and Informatics (CEMMI), a "virtual laboratory" available
online. The ARS Eastern Regional
Research Center (ERRC) in Wyndmoor,
Pa., unveiled CEMMI in February 2002 to help generate partnerships that advance
the use of predictive models of microorganisms in food.
CEMMI links its members' expertise to researchers in the food
industry, government and academia. According to CEMMI Coordinator Mark L.
Tamplin, ERRC hopes to enhance the way predictive models are developed and
applied to various food processing situations, while ensuring that users
interpret results properly. Predictive microbiology also benefits the risk
assessment community by filling gaps in research data and enhancing uniformity
in experimental designs.
ERRC's Pathogen Modeling Program software, a research and
instructional tool for estimating the effects of multiple variables on the
growth, inactivation or survival of food-borne pathogens, is available for
download at the web sites for CEMMI and ERRC's
Microbial Food Safety
about this research in the
February 2004 issue
of Agricultural Research magazine.
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.