Goals and Objectives

Overall goal

Accelerate the adoption of a sustainable food safety culture in commodity-based low-moisture food systems via an integrated, transdisciplinary, systems-based approach, with interconnected and parallel research, extension, and education activities.

Long-term objective

Reduce foodborne illnesses and product recalls linked to low-moisture foods to improve the protection of public health and the economic health of large and small entities within the industry. 

Theme 1: Human factors (health, consumers, economics and culture)

  • Quantify public health and economic impacts of illnesses linked to low-moisture foods.
  • Evaluate consumers’ knowledge attitudes, and behaviors related to low-moisture food safety, and develop and test intervention/extension/outreach programs and strategies.
  • Conduct economic analyses examining the influence of market forces, regulatory changes and novel technologies on industry stakeholders’ food safety behaviors.
  • Assess barriers to adopting a food safety culture in the low-moisture food industry, especially for small companies.

Theme 2: Pathogen behavior and control

  • Characterize and model pathogen persistence, propagation, transfer, survival, and inactivation through the entire low-moisture food system, from harvest-to-consumer.
  • Develop improved design standards and novel technologies for hygienic design and sanitation of low-moisture food handling and processing equipment.
  • Develop engineering tools and extension resources supporting to support small companies in implementing measurement systems for critical process factors.

Theme 3: Extension and education

  • Develop and evaluate multi-level extension/outreach programs and resources spanning the cultural, technical, scientific, regulatory, and economic domains for industry personnel.
  • Develop, implement, and assess formal educational courses in low-moisture food safety systems at the associate-degree (workforce) and graduate (scientific/technical) levels, and involve young professionals in project workshops to expand knowledge and networks.
  • Develop and test decision-support tools to enhance industry adoption of optimal food safety interventions at multiple points in the low-moisture food system.

Theme 4: Integrated risk and sustainability analyses

  • Conduct risk analyses that uniquely integrate and link quantitative measures for probability of illnesses, communication efficacy, and management impacts for low-moisture food systems.
  • Conduct sustainability analyses of current and alternative/novel food safety interventions at multiple points in the low-moisture food system.