Skip to Main Content

Purdue researcher to study food safety in low-moisture food staples

Low-moisture products, such as flour, dried fruit and nuts, are often perceived as safe from food pathogens in consumer’s eyes despite recent bacteria outbreaks. Like other raw food commodities, these low-moisture food products are at risk for foodborne bacteria if there isn’t a “kill step” or heating process to eradicate bacteria during harvest or processing.

“Historically consumers don’t think about low moisture or dry foods having food safety issues. We want to raise awareness among the public about how they can properly handle these food products and reduce the risk,” said Yaohua Feng, assistant professor of food science at Purdue University.

Yaohua FengFeng joins researchers from Michigan State University, Ohio State University, Washington State University, University of California-Davis, the University of Arkansas, the Illinois Institute of Technology, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to research food safety best practices in low-moisture foods. Led by Bradley Marks, professor and chair in the Michigan State University (MSU) Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering (BAE), the group was recently awarded a five-year, $9.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA NIFA). Together they will work to reduce the risk of Salmonella, E. coli and Listeria from harvest to consumer in low-moisture foods.

Feng is leading the human factor component of the project. She will collect data from consumers and low-moisture food industry professionals in surveys and observations of current food safety knowledge and practices. Data from the studies will help her create educational materials for industry professionals and consumers. She hopes to drive behavior change in the industry to improve food safety handling and comply with food safety regulations.

“It’s important for the human factor team to work with business decision-makers to convey the food safety risk and educate how to adopt new technology and comply with food safety best practices,” added Feng. “We want to help the food industry understand the risks and learn how to manage them.”

Feng hopes that the educational materials will also increase awareness in consumers about the risks and teach the public on what they can control to protect themselves from food pathogens.

“The research is relatively new for consumers. We don’t want to scare people away from delicious food, but we do want to educate consumers so they can prepare food with food safety in mind and enjoy it safely.”

Read more about the grant research here.

Featured Stories

Professor Widhalm reviews data from weather station.
New tool helps users track fruit-plant readiness for growing season

Purdue University’s Midwestern Regional Climate Center (MRCC) has launched its new...

Read More
Stephen Meyers shows Carlos Antonio López Manzano some interesting aspects of their mother mint plant.
Returning to his roots: Stephen Meyers and the land-grant mission

If you’re cruising through northern Indiana in late summer or early fall, roll down your...

Read More
Himalayan foothills
Experiencing the wonders and possibilities of India

Bernie and Andrea Engel had plenty of dreams when they were growing up in their respective rural...

Read More
karen sullivan helps a student in HORT 270
The art and science of crafting a flower bouquet: Q & A with Karen Sullivan

Ahead of Valentine’s Day, or Galentine’s Day, as popularized by the show Parks and...

Read More
Faculty sits with drone
Plant Sciences team develops thermal remote sensing protocol using GRYFN platform

Say you’re an agricultural scientist, and you know there’s technology out there that...

Read More
CD winners
Six awarded Certificate of Distinction at 2024 Purdue Ag Alumni Fish Fry

Purdue University’s Agricultural Alumni Association presented six agriculture leaders with...

Read More
To Top