FDSN Seminar Series: The continued search for suitable surrogates for Clostridium botulinum

Join the Department of Food Science and Nutrition for this seminar series event online Thursday, February 17 at 1 p.m featuring guest speaker Kristin Schill, Associate Scientist who joined the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Food Research Institute (FRI) in 2020 working with Dr. Kathleen Glass to lead the Applied Food Safety Laboratory.

Kristin Schill, Associate Scientist @ University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Food Research Institute (FRI)

Thursday, February 17, 2022 – 1:00 PM Central Time

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Title:  The continued search for suitable surrogates for Clostridium botulinum

Abstract:  Consumer demand for minimally processed, wholesome, yet safe food commodities, especially sous-vide products, refrigerated processed foods of extended durability (REPFED) and low acid canned foods continues to grow. Key target pathogens for these foods are heat resistant Group I proteolytic Clostridium botulinum, and the less heat resistant, but psychrotrophic Group II nonproteolytic C. botulinum. Spores of C. botulinum are widely distributed in the environment and their association with a diverse range of food commodities including, meat, fish, vegetables, and dairy components implicated in botulism outbreaks necessitates its stringent control. Therefore, food manufacturers are required to implement validated strategies to control C. botulinum either by providing a lethality step to ensure total spore destruction or through product formulation to inhibit growth and toxin production. The strict USDA/CDC regulations required for working with C. botulinum and its toxins and the extreme biohazardous risk of this organism obstruct the routine use of this organism in challenge studies required to validate strategies to control C. botulinum growth and toxin production in foods. Clostridium sporogenes PA 3679 has been adopted as a suitable thermal processing surrogate for group I (proteolytic) C. botulinum, however, there are currently no validated surrogates for growth inhibition studies for proteolytic or nonproteolytic C. botulinum. The goal of this presentation is to provide an overview of C. botulinum and the current thermal processing surrogate C. sporogenes PA3679 and discuss the current needs and approaches for identifying or genetically constructing an appropriate surrogate, and the challenges encountered with those methodologies.

Short bio:

Kristin Schill is an Associate Scientist who joined the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Food Research Institute (FRI) in 2020 working with Dr. Kathleen Glass to lead the Applied Food Safety Laboratory. In this capacity Kristin works directly with the food industry to design food challenge studies on a wide variety of food products. Prior to joining FRI, Kristin served as a research microbiologist for the FDA in Bedford Park, IL and her research portfolio encompassed projects involving the genetic characterization of Clostridium botulinum and related surrogate organisms, development and validation of botulinum neurotoxin detection methods, evaluation of thermal and nonthermal technologies for the inactivation of C. botulinum spores as well as whole genome, metagenomic and transcriptomic sequencing of several foodborne pathogens. Kristin earned her Bachelor of Science degree (Microbiology) and Master of Science degree (Food Science) at Iowa State University and her Ph.D. (Food Science) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

FDSN Seminar Series

The Department of Food Science and Nutrition hosts a number of virtual events through its Seminar Series and its Virtual Food Industry Friday series.

The FDSN Seminar Series features guest lectures by invited speakers that broaden understanding and knowledge of various scientific topics and original research in food science and nutrition. Speakers include experts from academia, federal government agencies, and the food industry. These seminars are held every Thursday at 1 p.m. Central Time.

Our Virtual Food Industry Friday events showcase food industry professionals, board members, and alumni who are available to meet with students, providing career path insights to the broad and important field of food, science, and technology. Speakers represent a wide range of experience and roles in the food industry such as quality, product development, packaging, regulations, research and development, and more, providing a broad perspective on the food industry. Virtual Food Industry Friday events are held every third Friday of the month during the spring and fall semester from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. CST. The open seminar forum lasts approximately 45 minutes with a 10-15 minute Q&A session included.