Online Food Safety Symposium Slated For Aug. 18-19

Online Food Safety Symposium Slated For Aug. 18-19

For everyone involved in getting food from farms to tables, experts from around the country will speak about new and established ways to ensure food safety at a free online symposium Aug. 18 and Aug. 19.

A pink blob within a light blue blob - the pink is a microscope image of bacteria on a blue disposable glove
Bacterial contamination on a disposable glove. (Scanning electron microscope image courtesy of Mustafa Akbulut)

Titled “Symposium on Bacterial and Viral Safety of Food Commodities and Food-Contact Surfaces,” the program has been organized by faculty members from both Texas A&M University and Texas A&M AgriLife. The symposium is funded by a research grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“A food safety issue anywhere in production can harm numerous people, and a problem with food contamination can be amplified due to globalization,” said Joe Masabni, Ph.D., a program organizer. Masabni serves as associate professor in the Department of Horticultural Sciences in the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and as Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service specialist.

“Those who work in food production must continue to educate themselves because mistakes that harm human health are unforgivable,” he said.

Food safety symposium purpose

Foodborne illnesses sicken about 48 million people and cost the U.S. an estimated $36 billion each year. To discuss solutions, 15 experts from top-tier universities, the USDA and private industry will each present half-hour talks and answer audience questions.

“We want to reach not only other scientists but also farmers, food processors and other stakeholders,” said Mustafa Akbulut, Ph.D., associate professor in the Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering in the Texas A&M College of Engineering and lead conference organizer. “We will try to keep the level simple, and we don’t want to exclude anybody.”

The other symposium organizers, all within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, are Matthew Taylor, Ph.D., professor, Department of Animal Science; Luis Cisneros-Zevallos, Ph.D., professor, Department of Horticultural Sciences; and Alejandro Castillo, Ph.D., associate professor, Department of Animal Science and Department of Food Science and Technology.

The covered topics will include methods of inactivating harmful bacteria and viruses, practical aspects of sanitation, emerging technologies, and the impact of foodborne illness on consumers, the economy and public health.

To obtain the link to attend, register for the symposium at

Symposium presentation times and topics

The program will begin at 9 a.m. Central Daylight Time both days. Aug. 18 will conclude at 5 p.m.; Aug. 19 will conclude at noon.

Aug. 18

Impact of foodborne illnesses to consumers, economy and public health. Taylor will chair.
— Yaohua Feng, Ph.D., Purdue University.
— Elaine Scallan-Walter, Ph.D., Colorado School of Public Health.

Methods of inactivating bacterial and viral pathogens from food commodities and food-contact surfaces. Taylor will chair.
— Brendan A. Niemira, Ph.D., USDA.
— Alexandra Calle, Ph.D., Texas Tech University.

Mechanisms of bacterial and viral contamination of food commodities and food-contact surfaces. The chair will be Cisneros-Zevallos.
— Kristen E. Gibson, Ph.D., University of Arkansas.
— Matthew Moore, Ph.D., University of Massachusetts Amherst.
— Matthew Jon Stasiewicz, Ph.D., University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Practical aspects of sanitizing food commodities and food-contact surfaces. Masabni will chair.
— Alex Brandt, Ph.D., Food Safety Net Services.
— Camila Rodrigues, Ph.D., Auburn University.
— Abigail B. Snyder, Ph.D., Cornell University.

Aug. 19

Emerging technologies of improving safety, function, and hygiene of food contact surfaces. Akbulut will chair.
— Julie Champion, Ph.D., Georgia Tech.
— Benedetto Marelli, Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
— Jeremy Adler, Ph.D., Ecolab, Windsor, Colorado.
— Jun Kyun Oh, Ph.D., Dankook University, Jukjeon, South Korea.
— William DeFlorio, Texas A&M University.

For more information or technical assistance, email

Olga Kuchment is a communication specialist for Texas A&M AgriLife Communications in College Station. She is responsible for writing news releases and feature articles from science-based information generated or provided by AgriLife faculty throughout the state.