Page 1

Sept 2015 | Volume 3, Issue 4


EMT Update

Let me begin with a very important announcement. Dr. Jeanette Thurston has recently received a well-deserved promotion within USDA NIFA. Bummer, right? Well, yes, for us maybe, but in the larger picture Jeanette will continue her dedicated service to NIFA programs, and will continue to pay close attention and provide her support to our STEC CAP effort. We will surely miss Jeanette’s warm personality, great

dedication to our project, and her wonderful insights into successfully executing this important grant. Now, the great news is Dr. Isabel Walls has taken over as our STEC CAP National Program Leader.

Randy Phebus


ow! What a busy summer for the STEC CAP nation, and as I write this “Director’s Update” with the Fall 2015 equinox approaching in two days (3:22 AM CST on September 23), I see us somewhat metaphorically in the Fall of the STEC CAP grant. We’re finishing off year 4 activities, and heading into the final official year of our project. Yes, we are hopeful and anticipating receiving a 6th year no-cost extension that would carry our effort through the end of 2017. I’m energized, and hope you are too, to hear about what all of our collaborators are planning for this cycle of the grant. In this update, I’m going to highlight some of our recent achievements since Dr. Luchansky’s July newsletter update (http://, and focus a little on important activities and deliverables for the next couple of months.

I have known Isabel for too many years to count, mostly through the International Association for Food Protection where we served together multiple years on the Program Committee. As a welcome to Dr. Walls as she takes over agency duties for the STEC CAP, a short bio is provided in this newsletter to familiarize you with her professional background. We are still in very capable hands with our new NPL, I assure you. When you get a chance, please thank Jeanette for all of her efforts (past and future) on our behalf. Last month, we began our summer with a great 3rd Annual STEC CAP Conference in Manhattan, KS (covered in last month’s update) where we highlighted a portion of our grant’s

...continued page 3 STEC CAP Team 126D VBS Lincoln, NE 68905 PHONE: 402-472-8564 FAX: 402-472-9690

Food Safety Educational Modules... By and For STEC CAP Institutions


et’s take you back in time. It’s August 2010. Our STEC CAP grant proposal is due to NIFA next month. Can you feel the tension rising as we approach this submission deadline? The AFRI Request for Applications (RFA) defined the CAP program as being “integrated” to address research, education and outreach components of controlling Shiga toxin-producing E. coli throughout the entire beef system, with one-third of the proposed budget going towards education and outreach activities. Our thoughts turned to the question, “Where do we focus our UNL-led team efforts in education and outreach to 1) make the most impact on public health, 2) engage and highlight the vast energy and expertise that we had assembled as collaborators, 3) productively weave our proposed CAP research activities and anticipated scientific findings into valuable educational experiences for “students”, and 4) be able to clearly describe our education and outreach vision and its anticipated impacts to

...continued page 6 Inside this issue Update from the EMT .................................................. 1 Food Safety Modules ................................................... 1 From the SAB Chair ....................................................... 2 Summer Workshop ....................................................... 5 Poster Award..................................................................... 4 Colvin Scholarship ......................................................... 5 Interns .................................................................................. 5

STEC CAP News Thoughts About IAFP From the STEC CAP SAB Chair


he writers of the STEC CAP grant did at least one thing right (hopefully not just one though), and that was to envision a highly knowledgeable and engaged stakeholder advisory board (SAB) as a critical element in planning, evaluating, and participating in all areas of the STEC CAP. Dr. Peter Taormina from Smithfield Foods, who has just completed his term as Chair of the SAB, and who has graciously agreed to remain a member of the SAB for the upcoming year, summarized his professional observations from the July IAFP meeting in Portland, OR. The EMT would like to point out that all seven of Peter’s points below are important components of our grant effort, and Peter’s ability to frame these technical topics shows the value and influence that he and others like him bring to our SAB.

3. Metagenomics can reveal a new aspect of microbial ecology

and show relationships. Some are using metagenomics to determine how the microflora of food products changes during shelf life. Others seek to understand the complexity of the food production and distribution networks and track pathogens through food systems. There are some limitations, but the possibilities of bringing clarity to complex microbial ecology seem promising.

4. Viral DNA and phage can indicate activity of bacterial and

viral populations. In my mind, the milieu just got more complicated, but virus and phage have always been present. In agricultural water sources such as irrigation water or springs, bacteriological analysis doesn’t go far enough in understanding water quality. The same can be said for biosolids. Molecular detection of human enteric viruses and coliphage, for example, should be utilized for greater insight into safety and quality of such samples.

7 Things I Learned at the 2015 IAFP Annual Meeting (Posted on LinkedIn on Aug 11, 2015 by Peter Taormina, Ph.D.)

The 2015 International Association for Food Protection Annual meeting has come and gone. Now, before preparing for next year, I take time to pause and reflect back on what a great experience it was. With about 3,200 in attendance, 160 exhibitors, and 2 ½ days of presentations and posters, there is a lot of information to process. Here are seven things I took away:

1. Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) to identify outbreaks is

already here. Both the CDC and the FDA have been researching and utilizing WGS for a few years now on foodborne and clinical bacterial isolates. Already, two foodborne outbreaks have been identified, in large part due to WGS. The USDA-FSIS labs have two or three sequencers and will follow suit. This technology will link what were formerly considered sporadic illnesses. Thus, individual cases will continue to decline, but outbreaks will go up. Meanwhile, some scientists consider WGS a misnomer since only SNPs are actually sequenced, not the entire genome.

2. Food safety education has to be marketed and distributed

- just like any other message. Creative approaches and social media are needed in order to reach consumers with food safety information, including safe handling, preparation, cooking, and cooling practices. Small and very small food companies also need to get the message about how to produce and distribute safe food, and where to find help of food safety professionals.

5. Standardization of challenge study

methods can’t cover every scenario. I’ve seen labs actually cite the NACMCF paper from JFP 2010 similarly to how they would cite and AOAC method of analysis. It makes me wonder, “Which part of that publication are you citing?” The road towards creating an international standard challenge study method for validating safety food products and processes will still lead to experts, for experimental design and interpretation of results.

6. FSMA means change for most. Food protection professionals

will all be impacted in large or small ways by implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act. There will be a growing need for inspectors. There will be training and certification available for the small- and mid-sized food companies through the Preventive Controls Alliance. Academic professionals, consultants, and trainers will be needed to provide the training. Internationally, food protection professionals involved in import/export with the U.S. will need to assure compliance. Some even think some of the outcomes of implementation might influence USDA-FSIS approaches towards regulating meat and poultry.


David Tharp, Lisa Hovey, Tamara Ford, Didi Loynachan, and the entire staff do an excellent job with the association! They are unquestionably dedicated and are amazingly hard workers. When you see them they could be going through a crisis at the event, but you’d never know it by the look on their faces - always a smile. IAFP staff, thank you so much! Please rest and relax now, at least for a little while.


Save the Date

The 2016 STEC CAP Annual Conference

will be held June 14-16th at the Embassy Suites in Lincoln, Nebraska. Please mark your calendars & plan to attend the Year 5 conference. Details coming soon! ...continued from page 1

...Director update projects and enjoyed 48 posters presented by our graduate students and STEC-STEP interns. Many of us headed to Portland, OR the last week of July for the annual International Association for Food Protection Conference, where the STEC CAP was well represented with four technical talks, 10 research posters, and three symposia talks. A day prior to the meeting, Dr. Moxley presented an update on the STEC CAP during the NIFA Project Directors Meeting. We want to thank all of our collaborators, USDA personnel, students and stakeholders who attended our STEC CAP breakfast at IAFP, and provide special thanks to the IAFP executive staff for helping us arrange it. We’ll do it again next summer in St. Louis! By the way, Dr. Taormina (our outgoing Stakeholder Advisory Board chair) did a great job of summarizing some very relevant takehome thoughts from the IAFP general meeting, and was kind enough to allow us to reprint them in this newsletter. It was then off to the VTEC 2015 meeting in Boston last week, and again the STEC CAP nation made a very good showing at this international conference focused exclusively on verotoxigenic E. coli (check out the article on this meeting). I would like to say this about all of the professional meetings we’ve attended as a group…they aren’t just about presenting our STEC CAP work to a broader scientific population (yes that’s important). It’s the experience, contacts, knowledge, and scientific perspective that all of us bring back home to improve

each team’s program that is the big pay-off. A few other important things before I shut ‘er down …

a) Mr. Brenden McCullough, Vice

President of Technical Services at National Beef Packing, has kindly agreed to chair the Stakeholder Advisory Board for the upcoming year. We want to thank Brenden for working diligently with us over the entire life of this grant, providing his insightful guidance and perspective, and now his willingness to chair this critical board.

b) We now have a Dawg on the

team…that is a Georgia Bulldog. Dr. Harsha Thippareddi accepted a food microbiology faculty position in the Poultry Science Department at the University of Georgia last month, and will transfer his STEC CAP research program (without missing a beat).


We (the EMT) just approved all of the collaborator proposals that were submitted in September for STEC-STEP interns and these will immediately be posted on our website to allow prospective students to apply. Student applications must be received by October 15, 2015.

d) WRITE IT DOWN… 4th Annual

STEC CAP Conference will be held in Lincoln, NE at the Embassy Suites on June 14-16, 2016.

e) I wish all of you at your respective

institutions a successful college football season (and some of our teams are needing a little help). I bring up football because we have a really exciting Tailgating Food Safety initiative underway as part of Objective 5. Dr. Ben Chapman (NC State) and Jill Hochstein (UNL) are leading this initiative involving the Food Science Clubs at 5 STEC CAP institutions. The club members are doing a great job covering two home games each, and our K-State club participated this past weekend to promote the STEC CAP’s Grill160 campaign. If you haven’t done so yet, please LIKE our Facebook page ( to see up-to-the-minute photos from each tailgate, along with a lot of other good stuff. Until the next newsletter in November, the EMT wishes you great success in your STEC CAP endeavors. Let’s start now to close this grant out with some great momentum. Feel free to contact any of us at any time if you need anything, or if you would like to offer suggestions or comments Best wishes – Randy Phebus

STEC CAP News STEC CAP Students Cherish Friendship and Research by Nicole Arnold and Lily YangKastner


e glanced apprehensively at one other from across the table as our bosses, Dr. Chapman and Dr. Boyer, began delving into this realm of something called “Mechanically Tenderized Beef.” At that moment at IAFP 2014, dwarfed by the immenseness of the Indianapolis Convention Center, neither of us could have imagined the adventure we were soon to embark upon. What started as a simple question, “Do you want to work with people?” quickly blossomed and developed into a mind and story of its own. After months of discussion, the multi-faceted goals of the project under the STEC-CAP grant were finally hashed out. Nicole (working towards a MS at North Carolina State University) would determine the prevalence of Mechanical Tenderization of Beef at independent retail markets in North Carolina and Virginia, while Lily (working towards a PhD at Virginia Tech) would be assessing consumer knowledge and behavior towards Mechanically Tenderized Beef through focus groups, nation-wide surveys, and video observations. From these observations and consumer interactions, intervention methods for affecting behavior will be developed, implemented, then evaluated for effectiveness. In a world of sensationalized media and fear-mongering, coupled with consumer beliefs of personal immunity, the necessary study of consumer behavior and knowledge has become imperative towards understanding and developing outreach, education, and intervention methods to influence positive consumer behavior changes. The term “Mechanically Tenderized Beef” may not be recognized and/or fully understood by consumers and sometimes retailers. Being a part of the STEC-CAP project has allowed Lily the opportunity to interact with consumers from all walks of life, to learn from them, and to understand their concerns, not only regarding beef, but with regards to food and the more worldly implications of food safety and food science. The project has allowed her to do what she loves most: talking with people, while teaching her how to better communicate scientific messages without causing fear. In the few focus groups that Lily has conducted, it has become apparent that consumers do not really care for labeling. In fact, consumers are more apt to believe in the internet than government proceedings; but despite these and other possible barriers, the search for new methods of outreach and education continues. For Nicole, the STEC-CAP project has been essential for networking and making friends within the food safety world who she knows will one day become her colleagues. From the moment she began in the Chapman lab at NC State, the importance

of partnership and collaboration were emphasized. She knew that Dr. Chapman had paired her with the Virginia Tech group Lily Yang (left) and Nicole Arnold (right) are so that Lily could STEC CAP students from different universities who have teamed up to communicate food serve as a mentor along the way. Nicole safety messages related to mechanically tenderized beef products. was able to meet many other students and professionals through Lily, whose infectious personality allowed her to make friends quite easily. This project also led to collaboration between sectors, where Nicole served as a STECCAP intern at the USDA Eastern Regional Research Center with Drs. Luchansky and Porto-Fett. Though rusty on her microbiology skills, Nicole quickly jumped back into the laboratory setting, evaluating the risk and prevalence of STEC in marinades used by small-scale meat markets as well as cleaning and sanitation practices for equipment used to mechanically tenderize and enhance beef products. NC State and the USDA EERC will continue to work together to conduct research on marinades in small meat-markets. Lily and Nicole first began working together when Lily was a MS student at Virginia Tech and Nicole was still an undergraduate student at NC State. Their work together was strictly virtual while they helped pull news stories for barfblog, a blog used to discuss evidence-based opinions on current food safety issues. A few months later, Nicole recognized Lily while she was giving a tour of the NC State Howling Cow Dairy for their region’s IFT annual area meeting. Fast forward to a few years later and Lily and Nicole are great friends, having each visited the others’ school to work on their shared project. Dr. Chapman at NC State serves on Lily’s committee, while Dr. Boyer from Virginia Tech serves on Nicole’s. By chance, Lily and Nicole were both accepted into IFT’s first annual Food Communicator’s Workshop, where they now serve in a working group called Don’t Eat the Pseudoscience. This team of students works towards effectively communicating food, science, and all aspects of Food Science through videos, social media, and other prominent channels. Lily recently took over as IAFP’s new chair of the Student Professional Development group, while Nicole serves as the vice chair. Together, they hope to share their own positive experiences working with one another and the other students of the STEC CAP team in order to promote more involvement and teamwork among students interested in food safety. After all, in the small world of food safety, your classmates and peers may soon become your professional colleagues.


Photo credit: Dan Donnert, K-State Research and Extension. In photograph are Kansas participants Kelly Hoelting (left) Johanna Ryckert (right).

Teacher’s Summer Workshop Proves to be a Recipe for Success “What do you need to ensure the Shiga Toxin-Producing Escherichia coli (STEC) Food and Nutrition Science Curriculum is engaging and educational for your students?”


hat was one of many questions asked to the middle and high school teachers attending the Food and Nutrition Science Institute funded by the STEC grant this past July at Kansas State University. The workshop, now in its third year, was established to introduce agriculture, science, and family and consumer science educators to a curriculum being developed and evaluated jointly by Kansas State University and the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. The curriculum covers food science, nutrition science and food safety and includes research findings and topics originating from the other STEC grant objective teams. The curriculum is taught to educators using advanced learning pedagogy. A series of facilitated hands-on workshops and interactive presentations were used to pilot the project-based curriculum, which has been adjusted and improved each year due to feedback from previous participants. Qualitative research conducted with previous Institute participants indicated the curricula’s rigor was suitable for the targeted grade range and could be used as a supplement to core science courses. In addition, the curricula’s richness

allowed for student engagement at higher cognitive levels while not jeopardizing student involvement. Buddy McKendree, a graduate assistant at Kansas State, said attendance had doubled for the second year in a row, growing from just 8 participants in 2013 to 41 teachers from Kansas, Nebraska and Florida in 2015. The workshop will be delivered again in 2016 either at Kansas State University or at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Innovation Campus, with all transportation, meals and lodging costs provided to participating teachers by the grant. A stipend for attending, utilizing the curriculum in the classroom and providing feedback also will be available, as well as a set of classroom supplies for teaching the curriculum in their school. The USDA NIFA’s original call for proposals for the CAP grant specified that training of the next generation of food safety professionals should be one of the grant recipient’s primary goals. The teacher workshop is one of several STEC CAP activities that pursue this goal, with others including the highly successful STEC-STEP internship/externship program, the Minority Serving Institution student intern program, the Frontier field trips, and development of college-level educational modules on beef safety. As for the teacher workshops, infusing real life food safety examples and scenarios into science-based curricula for middle and high school students brings the basic sciences (biology, microbiology, chemistry, math, engineering) to life with real-world applications and highlights college majors and professional career opportunities in food science/safety that use these concepts. For more information, contact Jason Ellis at

STEC CAP News Food Safety Educational Modules... By and For STEC CAP Institutions

...continued from page 1

the STEC CAP proposal reviewers to WIN this award?” The first thing we considered was…who were our “students”; and that was answered as a) traditional college students in disciplines like food science, veterinary medicine, biology/microbiology, public health, etc., b) industry workers who need additional focused food safety training on various aspects of their jobs, c) virtually all people who grow, process and consume beef, and d) the next generation of highly trained food safety professionals.

our proposal, and it’s likely that this played a crucial part in us ultimately winning the award. Since 2012 when we received our funding, STEC CAP collaborators and their teams have (and continue to) participated in very successful education and outreach efforts, including high school teacher curriculum development and training workshops, minority serving institution internships and research awards, STECSTEP internship/externship program, Frontier program field trips, secret shopper and the upcoming football tailgate food

STEC CAP Collaborators… Please read the last 3 paragraphs if you don’t have time to read this entire article!!!

Student group [d] is highlighted because we (the US food industry) entered an era of unprecedented science and technology being infused into the meat and poultry processing sectors in the late 1990s, and as the last 2.5 decades have marched past, there has been a continuous quest to improve technologies, processes, products, and practices to better control meat/food associated pathogens. Looking forward to the next decade and beyond, globalization of the food system will continue rapidly, technologies will continue to advance, and policies and regulations will continue to multiply and become more stringent. What does this all mean? Well, a lot, but one thing is for sure, the food industry and public health agencies will require vastly more adequately educated food safety professionals. So, the STEC CAP grant writers focused hard on student education and training in

safety projects, and the Beef Cattle Institute’s industry level training modules. Check, check, and check! NOW, the final new element of our STEC CAP educational initiative kicks in. One of our Objective 5 deliverables is the development of Beef/Food Safety Educational Modules to support college-level student learning. STEC CAP collaborators who have received funding within the lifespan of the grant are expected to participate in the development of recorded video/audio lectures (modules) on a topic in their area of expertise related to food safety, with significant focus on STEC understanding and control in the beef system. We envision these modules to be a 30-45 minute lectures that are captured as mp4 files and that utilize a common/ similar format and visual style across all modules. Sarah Reasoner, working

within Objective 5 (Dr. Curtis Kastner lead), will help facilitate the capture of these lectures and editing as needed. Dr. Sara Gragg (K-State Olathe campus food microbiologist) has graciously stepped up to help identify desired topics and presenting collaborators for various modules. We hope to have 15-20 modules completed by December 1, 2016. In most cases, identified collaborators will only be asked to provide one module each. How will these modules be used and how can they benefit all STEC CAP collaborators? Our vision is to develop the 15-20 modules and make them readily assessable at no cost to all collaborators and their institutions. They could then be flexibly used in any manner desired, such as to supplement existing on-campus or online courses, or perhaps an institution would like to package a number of the modules together to offer as a new course in their curriculum. Drs. Gragg and Phebus at K-State plan to do the later, and recently was awarded a Global Campus grant (internal KSU funding) to develop an E-book to support a new upper level food safety course that utilizes the STEC CAP modules. Please watch for a separate mailing from Dr. Gragg and Sarah Reasoner within the next two weeks that provides topic ideas, targeted collaborator identifications, and more information on how to capture your lecture(s). We also welcome your input now into what food safety topics you feel should be developed and if you would like to take on that topic. We already have a few commitments (thank you Darin Detwiler and Rod Moxley) and hope to have more before the end of October. Contacts: Dr. Sara Gragg Sarah Reasoner

Dr. Curtis activities


s Kastner, Director of the K-State Food Science Institute, promotes STEC CAP grant at the 2014 Cattlemen’s Day event in Manhattan, KS. Photo credit: Dan Donnert, K-State Research and Extension. In photograph are Kansas participants Kelly Hoelting (left) Johanna Ryckert (right).

Recent Collaborator Retirements and Adjustments


s a large grant defined by 5-6 years of STEC-related research, education and outreach, we have to expect that changes will occur with our engaged personnel. Dr. Thurston recently moved up in the NIFA organization and Dr. Walls has become our grant’s National Program Leader. In the past, we have seen Dr. Terry Klofenstein (UNL) and Dr. Christine Bruhn (UC-Davis) retire from their respective universities. This summer, Dr. Dann Husmann, co-leader of the Teacher Workshop program already described in the current newsletter, accepted the position of Director of the PGA Golf Management program at UNL. He will remain engaged in the STEC CAP workshop, however, in support of Dr. Ellis.

analyses needs of many STEC CAP researchers, and has also mentored STEC CAP supported graduate students. He is now retired and intends to spend quality time with family. We will miss Dave’s great expertise and welcoming attitude, and we wish him the very best in retirement. Dr. Curtis Kastner, STEC co-PD and Objective 5 leader, just announced that he will retire effective July 1, 2016 from Kansas State University after over 40 years of service in the Animal Sciences and Industry Department and the Food Science Institute. Like Dr. Marx, Curtis intends to spend much more time with his family (especially the grandkids). The GREAT news is Curtis will continue to lead Objective 5 activities through the end of the grant as an emeritus professor.

Two new retirements of key individuals is hereby announced. Dr. David Marx (UNL) has supported the statistical design and

Save the Date

The 2016 STEC CAP Annual Conference

will be held June 14-16th at the Embassy Suites in Lincoln, Nebraska. Please mark your calendars & plan to attend the Year 5 conference. Details coming soon!

STEC CAP News Dan Thomson makes list of 20 Influential Farm Animal Veterinary Professors


ongratulations to Dan Thomson, Jones professor of production medicine in the College of Veterinary Medicine and director of the Beef Cattle Institute, for being named to’s list of 20 Influential Farm Animal Veterinary Professors released in August. He was recognized for being (Adapted from K-State Today article by Joe Montgomery, August 27, granted more than 2015) $34 million in research funds, having published more than 69 papers, and delivering more than 520 international lectures on all aspects of beef cattle production in his time at Kansas State University. Thomson hosts a national veterinary talk show, “Doc Talk.” In 2015, he was also recognized as the National Beef Quality Assurance Educator of the Year. Dan serves as co-PD on the STEC CAP grant and co-leads the Objective 5 Outreach and Education component with Dr. Curtis Kastner.

Dr. Lin Li Wins First Place in Developing Scientist Competition


ongratulations to Lin Li, former STEC CAP graduate student with Dr. Thippareddi at the University of Nebraska. Her work on modeling growth of STEC organisms in various food systems is very important to our grant effort, and it was good enough to allow her to bring home the 2015 J. Mac Geopfert Developing Scientist first place award (Oral Technical Presentation Division). Very proud of you Lin and best wishes in your new job at Neogen Corporation!

STEC Cappers Recognized at IAFP


he recent International Association for Food Protection (IAFP) meeting in Portland, OR once again proved to be a rich source of all things food safety (please read Dr. Taormina’s summary in this newsletter). With over 3,000 of the world’s food safety professionals keenly focused on technical talks, research posters, vendor exhibits, and social gatherings, three of our STEC CAP leaders were honored with very distinctive recognitions. Peter Taormina (top), John Morrell Food Group/Smithfield Foods, Inc., Cincinnati, Ohio, received the Harold Barnum Industry Award. This award recognizes his outstanding service to IAFP, the public and the food industry. Peter just completed his stint as our STEC CAP Stakeholder Advisory Board chair, and will remain on the Board this year. Christine Bruhn (center) was received the Honorary IAFP Life Membership Award. Christine recently retired as a consumer food marketing specialist in the UC Davis department of food science and technology, however, she remains very active in Objectives 3 and 5 of the STEC CAP. This award recognizes IAFP members for their dedication to the high ideals and objectives of IAFP and for their service to the association. Her research focuses on consumer attitudes toward food safety and quality. (Courtesy photo by Corwyn Lovin) Benjamin Chapman (bottom), North Carolina State University, Raleigh, was presented the IAFP Larry Beuchat Young Researcher Award. This award is presented to a young researcher who has shown outstanding ability and professional promise in the early years of his/her career. Ben is a well-known food safety researcher, extension specialist, and advocate and participates in numerous STEC CAP activities under Objectives 3 and 5.


Doctoral candidates Danny Unruh (top) from K-State-Olathe [Advisor: Dr. Sara Gragg] and Nick Sevart (bottom) from K-State [Advisor: Dr. Randy Phebus] represented a large

16 STEC Cap Participates at the VTEC Conference


he 9th Triennial International Symposium on Shiga Toxin (Verocytotoxin) Producing Escherichia coli Infections was held in Boston, MA on September 13-16. This represents over a quarter century of meetings and professional interactions by scientists from a diversity of backgrounds on virtually all aspects of STEC including veterinary and medical microbiology, epidemiology, physiology, ecology, food

safety, and animal production. Researchers from 23 nations attended the conference and presented over 290 abstracts. Our STEC CAP project director, Dr. Moxley, was heavily involved in the planning of VTEC 2015, serving as co-chair of PreSymposium I - Food Safety from Farm and Field to Plate. The STEC CAP nation was well represented at VTEC 2015, presenting three invited talks (Dr. Nagaraja, Dr. Cernicchiaro, and Nick

Sevart) and 16 posters. Additionally, Darin Detwiler, Senior Policy Coordinator for STOP Foodborne Illness, and STEC CAP Stakeholder Advisory Board member, provided the keynote talk at the conference’s breakfast titled “The Triangle of Impact: Science, Policy, and Consumers.” We want to specifically thank STEC CAP doctoral students Nick Sevart and Danny Unruh for constructing, transporting, posting and defending 13 research projects on behalf

of numerous authors from the Moxley, Thippareddi and Phebus groups who could not attend. Great thanks go to Dr. T.G. Nagaraja for stepping up on short notice to present an STEC CAP talk in Dr. Moxley’s scheduled agenda position, as he could not attend due to the recent passing of his father. Please visit our website (www. for a listing of titles and authors of all VTEC 2015 submissions.

STEC CAP News STEC CAP Welcomes Our New NPL


r. Isabel Walls has now taken over the administrative reins of the STEC CAP with Dr. Thurston’s recent NIFA promotion. Dr. Phebus offers this comment on Isabel’s new role in our grant … “What I can tell you is that Isabel is a warm and friendly person; she is very experienced with the NIFA Division of Food Safety programs; she is a true food safety expert and advocate; and she is very highly respected by her peers.” Isabel has a long and distinguished professional food safety pedigree. After completing her Ph.D. in food microbiology at Ulster University in Northern Ireland, she began her career in 1991 as a post-doctoral fellow with USDA-ARS. She was a research microbiologist with the Grocery Manufacturers Association from 1992 to 2000, and senior microbiologist for the International Life Sciences Institute from 2000 to 2005. She joined the USDA-FSIS in 2005 as a senior scientist/

microbiologist, serving in this position for two years. In 2007, Isabel moved to USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service and served in this office for another two years. In 2009, Isabel made her move into NIFA as a National Program Leader (NPL; Epidemiology of Food Safety) for almost four years. She then briefly transferred to the USDA Office of the Chief Scientist as a senior advisor for food safety, nutrition and health. In May 2014, Isabel returned to NIFA as a NPL (Food Safety). Isabel’s food safety and public health background is broad, with special interest areas being food microbiology, risk analysis, international trade, and food defense. She has served on numerous prestigious committees including the US Government Interagency Risk Assessment Consortium (past chair), the US Government Subcommittee on the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Food Safety Cooperation Forum (technical expert), and Codex Committee on Food Hygiene Working Group on Salmonella and Campylobacter in Poultry (member). She is also past president of the International Association for Food Protection (2011-12). Isabel, we look forward to working with you as we finish off the STEC CAP grant.

Check us out on the Web! Visit us at: Subscribe to the listserv. Send an email to: In the message field: subscribe stecbeefsafety

This project was supported by Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Grant No. 2012-68003-30155 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Prevention, Detection and Control of Shiga Toxin Producing Escherichia coli (STEC) from Pre-Harvest Through Consumption of Beef Products Program –A4101.

STEC CAP September 2015 Newsletter  

Bi-monthly newsletter of STEC CAP happenings

STEC CAP September 2015 Newsletter  

Bi-monthly newsletter of STEC CAP happenings