How I spent my summer vacation: Interning at the FIC

How I spent my summer vacation: Interning at the FIC

This summer I had the opportunity through Saturday Academy’s ASE program to intern at the Food Innovation Center (FIC) under Dr. Jovana Kovacevic and John Jorgensen, M.Sc. student. My work primarily consisted of assisting John with his master’s project; an investigation into sources of contamination of Listeria spp. and Salmonella in produce processing environments. Subsequently, we provided facilities that were found to have bacterial contamination with information focusing on “seek and destroy” methods of prevention and control.

Currently, there is little to no data regarding bacterial contamination in produce, as until the last few years, produce was not considered a main vehicle for the transmission of these bacteria. Consequently, many of the facilities processing fresh produce are not well versed in contamination control. With the data we collect in this investigation, we hope to provide insight to food safety teams at these facilities in reference to controlling contamination.

I was able to visit three facilities throughout the summer for sampling visits during which John and I followed OSU Food Safety (FS) Dept. Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) Guidelines and using aseptic technique to retrieve swap samples from researched and defined locations. In order to discover whether we had collected positive samples, we brought our swabs back to our lab at the FIC to begin the processing stage. Using modified standard methods from the International Standardization Organization (ISO) 11290-0 for Listeria spp. processing and from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Bacteriological Analytics Manual (BAM) Chapter 5 for Salmonella processing we were able to confirm two positives out of 62 samples from three facilities. Both from the same facility, we had one sample from a drain confirm to be a non-pathogenic species of Listeria called Listeria innocua, or L. innocua and the second from an outside part of a conveyor confirm to be a pathogenic species of Listeria called Listeria monocytogenes or L. mono. From these results we are able to draw the conclusion that at this facility, a main source of contamination was likely raw product entering the processing environment.

During the time I worked at FIC, I learned some new things and got to practice some things I had previous experience with. Out of everything I had the chance to do this summer, my favorite was going to the facilities and seeing the actual areas we would be testing. It gave me a unique insight about the industry and the way that facilities actually work.

My name is JJ Stull and I am a senior at Beaverton Health and Science School. I play soccer and work full time, and I plan to enter the medical field after high school. In college, I plan to major in Biology with a minor in Political Science.