Spinach safety fears
Two UC Davis food safety experts who have been closely monitoring this E. coli outbreak in spinach help us better understand this outbreak and the science behind food safety.
Trevor Suslow is a plant pathologist and UC Cooperative Extension specialist who studies food safety issues related to fresh produce and then gets his findings out to the agricultural industry. Joining him is Dean Cliver, a professor of food safety in the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and an expert on diseases that can be spread through food and water.
- "Scientists will track E. coli in the Salinas Valley," UC Davis News Service press release, 10.23.06
- "UC Davis scientists join new food safety network," UC Davis News Service press release, 3.23.05
Trevor Suslow, Cooperate Extension plant pathologist
Suslow, a faculty member in the UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences, studies the post-harvest quality of fresh produce. As a Cooperative Extension specialist, he works closely with vegetable farmers, processors and distributors to create practical solutions to food-safety problems, such as E. coli contamination.
He has become one of UC Davis' most active researchers in looking at possible sources of E. coli contamination in spinach, lettuce and other fresh greens, and in working with the industry to prevent future microbial contamination of crops.
Suslow’s lab is investigating what the consequences would be if spinach seeds were to become contaminated with E. coli O157:H7. The researchers also are exploring possible technologies for disinfecting contaminated seeds.
They also are studying whether E. coli may be able to thrive at temperatures once thought to be too cold to support bacterial growth. The concern: Could E. coli be multiplying as the spinach is being shipped across country in refrigerated containers at sub-optimal temperatures?
A third project is looking at compost and manure as a potential source for the bacterial contamination.
Contact: Contact: Trevor Suslow, UC Davis Plant Science Department, (530) 754-8313, email@example.com
Dean Cliver, professor of food safety
Cliver, who is a faculty member in the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, is an expert on infectious diseases that can be spread through food and water.
He is an authority on the science of microbial diseases and how illnesses, caused by viruses and bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella can be transmitted to people via fresh foods. This expertise has brought him to the attention of several state, federal and international agencies.
Cliver previously served on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's advisory committee on mad cow disease (BSE or bovine spongiform encephalopathy) and is a consultant to the World Health Organization on viruses transmitted via food. Using his expertise, Cliver also has served as a liaison to food-animal industries and food industries in general.
In one of his more consumer-related research projects, Cliver and a colleague demonstrated that wooden cutting boards kill bacteria that survive well on plastic boards. Previously it had been assumed that plastic cutting surfaces were less prone than wooden cutting boards to bacterial contamination in the kitchen.
Contact: Contact: Dean Cliver, School of Veterinary Medicine, (530) 754 9120, firstname.lastname@example.org