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Validation of Agent Inactivation and Isolation from Food Systems

Award No.: 
Principal Investigator: 
Alvin Lee
PI Organization: 
Illinois Institute of Technology
Validation of a process needed to eliminate a microbiological or chemical hazard in food can be difficult. Processing technologies that have shown efficacy in eliminating a hazard under laboratory conditions, usually under well controlled parameters, may not be effective against the threat agent during scale-up. Often there are no proven procedures that can be immediately applied to novel processing technologies, which means that validation procedures must be developed and tested. This project involves integration of projects, current and previous, funded by NCFPD so that validation of developed protocols by the various research groups, that were laboratory based, could be brought together and conducted in a secure high-level biocontainment facility at IFSH that houses pilot or full scale food processing equipment. The project team worked with pilot-scale HTST processing equipment to validate thermal inactivation of ricin and anthrax in large scale based on previously developed laboratory-scale protocols. In addition, sanitation and disinfection protocols were validated giving the food industry data and conditions to inactivate ricin and anthrax and sanitize processing equipment prior to processing food for human consumption. The results showed typical pasteurization conditions for fluid milk are insufficient to inactivate ricin and anthrax if present in nonfat milk and complete inactivation of ricin and anthrax would require considerably longer hold times that would result in loss of milk quality. However, UHT conditions used to process fluid milk could inactivate anthrax and ricin provided if specific processing conditions were achieved and maintained. These results suggest a significant vulnerability for pasteurized fluid milk supply to a contamination event with both biothreat agents.