USDA launches Web site for predicting behavior of foodborne pathogens

Feb 11, 2002 (CIDRAP News) – The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has set up a new Web site to help food scientists develop and use mathematical models to predict how pathogenic bacteria in food will behave under varying environmental conditions.

The Agricultural Research Service's (ARS's) Eastern Regional Research Center (ERRC) in Wyndmoor, Pa., set up the site "to form partnerships that advance the use of predictive models of microorganisms in food," ARS officials announced recently. The ARS is the USDA's main research agency. The Web site is called the Center of Excellence in Microbial Modeling and Informatics (CEMMI).

The ERRC has been developing mathematical models of microbial behavior in food for 15 years, the announcement said. The new Web site is intended to link the expertise of the ERRC and other laboratories with other researchers and industry in an effort to find solutions to food safety and quality problems.

CEMMI Coordinator Mark L. Tamplin said the center hopes to improve the way predictive models are developed and applied and to ensure that the results are interpreted properly. It is also hoped that the center will help define gaps in research data and enhance uniformity in experimental designs, he said.

One current CEMMI project is a collaboration with the United Kingdom's Institute for Food Research to develop an online "data warehouse" called ComBase that will provide scientists with "vast information" to develop and validate models of microorganisms in food, officials said. In another project, ERRC and Decisionalysis Risk Consultants, Inc., Ottawa, Ont., are working on a computer program to guide microbiology users in making decisions related to the behavior of pathogenic bacteria in food.

ARS officials said researchers interested in collaborating with CEMMI are encouraged to contact the center.

See also:

ARS news release
http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr/2002/020205.htm

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