University of Georgia food microbiologists Larry Beuchat andMichael Doyle have been awarded the Partners in Public HealthAward by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.Beuchat and Doyle are researchers with the UGA College of Agriculturaland Environmental Sciences’ Center for Food Safety in Griffin,Ga. They were nominated for the award by administrators at theNational Center for Infectious Diseases.Tomatoes and SalmonellaBeuchat is an internationally recognized expert on fruits andvegetables. He was selected for the CDC honor based on his workon several outbreaks of salmonellosis that were associated withraw tomatoes.Before Beuchat’s research, tomatoes were not viewed as potentialvehicles for transmission of Salmonella. His research clearlyshowed the pathogen can grow and multiply on raw tomatoes at roomtemperature.Doyle, director of the Center for Food Safety, was selectedfor his participation in several investigations of large food-bornedisease outbreaks.Foodborne Illness OutbreaksThese investigations included a 1985 Midwestern U.S. outbreakof salmonellosis which affected 250,000 people and the 1993 hamburger-associatedE. coli O157:H7 outbreak in western U.S. states.The CDC also applauded the scientists’ research into preventionrecommendations. The award nomination listed as an example a multistateoutbreak of shigellosis in 1998.Parsley and ShigellaThe Minnesota State Health Department was investigating threeoutbreaks that appeared to be linked to three separate restaurants.Health officials soon discovered the outbreaks, as well as Shigellaoutbreaks in several other states, were all linked to parsley.Working with the CDC, Beuchat and Doyle conducted researchto see whether Shigella multiplies in parsley under restaurantconditions and, if so, how this can be prevented.Their studies revealed Shigella bacteria multiply muchfaster when parsley is chopped and kept at room temperature, acommon practice in the restaurant business.As a result of the study, the UGA researchers now recommendparsley be decontaminated by being soaked in either diluted bleachor diluted vinegar.Beuchat has worked on joint projects with the CDC for the pastseven years and Doyle for the past 15 years.
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