World Food Safety Day 2024

In 2018, the U.N. General Assembly established June 7 as World Food Safety Day to bring awareness of foodborne risks and “to celebrate the myriad benefits of safe food.” 

This year’s theme, Food safety: prepare for the unexpected, “underlines the importance of being prepared for food safety incidents, no matter how mild or severe they can be.”

The World Health Organization says, “Every day, on average, 1,600,000 people get sick due to unsafe food, contaminated with bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances.” Of the 600 million people who contract foodborne illnesses annually, 420,000 die, pointing to the importance of good food safety practices at all levels of food production and consumption including the home.

With 25 faculty members involved in food safety microbiology, the University of Georgia has one of the largest teams of food safety researchers of any university. Their research and collaboration efforts can be felt globally and contribute to a growing body of knowledge that ensures producers and consumers have the latest information about food safety. 

Larry Beuchat

University of Georgia Professor Emeritus Larry Beuchat is featured on an episode of Cultivating Curiosity where he discusses his career and the history of food safety research at the UGA Center for Food Safety. 

Tune in here.

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Highlights of UGA research:

Toolbox for organic growers 

University of Georgia researchers in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences are part of a $3.5 million grant designed to assist organic producers in meeting both National Organic Program standards and food safety requirements.

Abhinav Mishra, an associate professor and graduate program coordinator in the Department of Food Science and Technology, and Govindaraj Dev Kumar, an assistant professor with the UGA Center for Food Safety, are the UGA co-principal investigators for the project in collaboration with researchers from the University of Rhode Island, University of California, Davis and the Organic Center.

The team will work together over the next four years to “reduce the operational and administrative barriers to compliance with multiple regulations for organic growers,” Mishra said.

Read more here

Antimicrobial blue light named a top food safety innovation of 2023

A team of researchers at CFS, led by director Francisco Diez, studied the potential uses of antimicrobial blue light to eliminate pathogens in manufacturing facilities. Other team members include Govindaraj Dev Kumar and Magdalena Olszewska, an associate professor at the University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn, Poland, who was a visiting scientist at CFS during work on the project. CFS is a part of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences on the UGA Griffin campus.

Earlier this year, it was named one of the top food safety innovations of 2023 by Food-Safety Magazine.

Read more here.

Detecting a leading cause of foodborne outbreaks 

“While human norovirus and hepatitis A virus have occasionally been implicated in foodborne outbreaks in berries, isolating them using the FDA standard detection method can be difficult. That’s because viruses typically are present in low numbers and recovering them using current testing methods may be inefficient. In addition, detecting genetic virus material doesn’t necessarily equate to infection.

Malak Esseili, Ph.D., with the University of Georgia, hopes to enlist new technology to optimize the FDA’s detection method and then use it to determine infectious norovirus persistence in stored berries.”

Read more here 

International Cyclospora conference held  

In early March, global experts in Cyclospora, a parasite responsible for fresh produce foodborne outbreaks, met in Atlanta to discuss their research. The meeting was an opportunity to “unravel insights, foster collaboration, and pave the way towards effective solutions for combating Cyclospora contamination and safeguarding public health” - an uphill battle as Cyclospora is notoriously challenging to study in the lab.

Read more here


Former Director of the CDC Food Safety Office, Art Liang, retired last year. To celebrate the critical role he played in connecting the Center for Food Safety with CDC scientists, officials and industry representatives, CFS Director Francisco Diez invited him to give a presentation on his career in food safety.  

You can view his talk titled Changing Landscape of Foodboren Illness, 1999 – 2023: A Personal View here: Art Liang - Changing Landscape of Foodborne Illness 1999-2023.mp4