With the ability to survive for long periods at both high and low temperatures, Listeria monocytogenes is a potentially deadly foodborne pathogen. So, it’s easy to see the value of a computer model developed by Cornell University scientists, which allows food safety professionals to predict where in a production facility the pathogen is most likely to be found. Food safety managers are then able to focus their pathogen testing efforts on those areas.

The new computer program, which is called Environmental Monitoring With an Agent-Based Model of Listeria (EnABLe), creates “a digital twin” of a food processing facility, thus making it possible to simulate the “pathogen dynamics” of the facility, explains Renata Ivanek, an associate professor in Cornell’s Department of Population Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences and senior author of a recent paper on the new computer model.

“The environments in the food processing facilities are highly complex, with many pieces of unique equipment and spatial arraignments, and with unique and varying ways in which foods and people interact with each other directly and through equipment and surfaces in the environment,” says Ivanek. Thus, identifying the optimal locations for environmental monitoring and determining where to sample on a given day is challenging, Ivanek explains.

“Traditionally, environmental monitoring decisions have typically been made based on expertise and experience of a food safety manager or another person with similar responsibilities in a food company,” she notes. EnABLe is designed to be a tool to assist food safety managers, but it won’t replace them, she says.

Developing the new model was data intensive. “It required historical data on environmental monitoring in the specific facility, observations of contact patterns and operations in the facility, expert opinion about the rate of contact between different agents, and understanding of the biology of the specific pathogen from the literature (such as replication time and survival),” says Ivanek.

The paper detailing the new computer model, which Ivanek wrote with fellow Cornell scientists Claire Zoellner, Rachel Jennings, and Martin Wiedmann, was published in Nature Scientific Reports, and the research was described in an article that appeared in the Cornell Chronicle.

More from IFTNEXT right arrow

Molecule in oranges, tangerines could reverse obesity

Researchers at Western University have identified a molecule found in oranges and tangerines that could hold the key to reversing obesity and regressing plaque build-up in arteries.

Identifying chocolate using its ‘fingerprints’

Researchers from Towson University developed a method for determining where a particular chocolate was produced using its chemical “fingerprint,” with the hopes that it could one day be used to trace the chocolate back to the farm that grew the beans.

Amino acid plays a role in durian fruit’s stinky smell

The durian fruit stinks. Literally. The fruit from Southeast Asia is said to at best smell like rotten onions. Now, new research has found that an amino acid plays a role in giving the durian fruit its notorious smell.

Interrupting the reproductive cycle for Aspergillus

For as long as humans have been growing food crops, pests and pathogens have been attacking them. For one fungal pathogen, scientists in the United Kingdom have figured out a way to use its own biology to prevent it from destroying crops.

More from IFT right arrow

Social Distancing in a Modern Food Factory

New practices and enhancements of existing practices to promote social distancing within food plants are outlined.

Food Safety During the COVID-19 Pandemic

What food manufacturing, food processing, and food packaging companies should be doing to keep workers safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Foodborne Illness Can Induce Autoimmune Illnesses

The article describes how seven pathogens cause 90% of foodborne illness and how foodborne illness can lead to autoimmune diseases.

A Piña Colada Tastes Better on a (Virtual) Beach

During IFT19, an interactive event allowed participants to be immersed in a virtual environment to test whether their surroundings would alter their liking of beverages.

Food Authentication: Better Safety, More Powerful Technology

Food authentication is an important and established discipline for the food industry and multiple tools, thanks to multiple new analytical tools that have revolutionized it.

Latest News right arrow

FDA extends comment period for the intentional adulteration rule draft guidance

The FDA is extending the comment period for the third installment of the draft guidance designed to support compliance with the Mitigation Strategies to Protect Food Against Intentional Adulteration (IA) rule under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

Fresh Del Monte Produce opens fresh-cut plant in Japan

Fresh Del Monte Produce has announced that its subsidiary Fresh Del Monte Japan has begun operations in its newly completed plant in Yokohama, Japan.

Nestlé pilots reusable and refillable dispensers to reduce single-use packaging

Nestlé is piloting reusable and refillable dispensers for pet care products and soluble coffee as part of its efforts to reduce single-use packaging.

CDC releases guidelines for restaurants reopening post-pandemic

As restaurants and bars resume operations in some areas of the United States, the CDC has published a guidance document that offers considerations for ways in which operators can protect employees, customers, and communities and slow the spread of COVID-19.

JUST partners with Michael Foods; expands processing capacity in Europe

JUST and Michael Foods, a subsidiary of Post Holdings and one of the largest processors of value-added eggs in the world, have announced a new partnership to bring the plant-based JUST Egg to more consumers in the United States.