Not every juice is prepared as simply as cutting open an orange and freshly squeezing the liquid out of the pulp at your kitchen table. Minimally processed juices that are sold commercially undergo high-pressure processing (HPP) to reduce the number of microorganisms through application of pressure without heat. Through HPP, juices are able to maintain nutritional benefits and have a longer shelf life. Catherine Rolfe (M.S. FST ’16; FdSN Ph.D. student) was honored with a 2019 J. Mac Goepfert Developing Scientists Award from the International Association for Food Protection Foundation for her technical presentation on research she conducted comparing HPP inactivation of three common pathogens of concern, namely, E. coli O157:H7, L. monocytogenes, and Salmonella spp.
Rolfe, who placed third in the competition and whose doctoral project focuses on developing validation guidelines for high-pressure processed juices in relation to microbial safety, says that there is currently no consensus among industry, academia, and government on a standardized validation protocol related to HPP juices. She is collaborating with Associate Professor of Food Science and Nutrition Alvin Lee, School of Applied Technology, and United States Food and Drug Administration scientists Nathan Anderson and Glenn Black to further investigate the bacterial isolates for pressure resistance/sensitivity and adaptability to various juice matrices.
“Being involved with research that is meaningful and stimulating helps me to stay interested and motivated toward broadening my knowledge in my field,” she says, noting that her internship as a food safety microbiologist determined her food science and nutrition career path.