Photo of Carl Custer

Carl Custer is an independent consultant for food safety microbiology. He retired from USDA FSIS in 2007 after over 34 years as a bench and a desk scientist.  The food safety issues he worked on include:

Inhibition of Clostridium botulinum,

Inhibiting nitrosamine formation,

Analysis and inactivation of Trichinella spiralis,

Physics and microbiology of cooling heated foods,

Thermal and non-thermal inactivation of bacterial pathogens in traditional and ethnic foods,

Predictive microbiology

The microbiology and safety of fermented and dry-cured meat products,

HACCP development and implementation for both processing and slaughter


These issues included developing the scientific basis for regulatory policy development and rule promulgation.

Carl also served as a trainer for FSIS inspectors, the FSIS Hotline, retail processors and inspectors, small farm processors, and country ham processors.

Carl is a lifetime member of the International Food Protection Association (IAFP) and the American Society for Microbiology.  He was also a member of the Food Microbiology Research Conference executive board for twelve years and the Chair for two years.

Carl started his Food Microbiology career in 1966 as a technician then as graduate student for Dr. Carl Vanderzant at Texas A&M.  Projects included dairy, meat, and seafood microbiology.

Carl’s hobbies included cooking, gardening, woodworking, and motorcycle touring on one of his four vintage Honda motorcycles.


Not all Salmonella are alike. Camplyobacter likely similar.

Preharvest economic incentives haven’t eliminated STEC but imagine what the data would be like if there were none. Leafy greens anyone? Scandinavia has accomplished a lot and could do more if tourists would stay home.

Ideally, the best place to eliminate
Continue Reading Salmonella and campylobacter performance standards a ‘good idea’ but . . .


Editor’s note: One of our regular contributors, Carl Custer, has been closely watching the investigations into E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks associated with romaine lettuce in the past year. Here he discusses some of the research he has been reviewing in recent days on related topics.

An animal entering a
Continue Reading Reality as we know it, as it’s been, and as it will remain if we don’t act


Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part opinion piece. To read part one, please click here.

In the previous article, I wrote about the decades-old public health problem of poultry-borne salmonellosis. This article will propose declaring the virulent strains that are pathogenic to humans as adulterants
Continue Reading Reality of our world: Money trumps altruism in the quest for safer poultry


Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part opinion piece.

In recent days the CDC and FSIS updated information on a continuing salmonellosis outbreak connected to raw and live turkeys. Since July 19 announcement of the outbreak, 74 more people from 26 more states have been reported.

Continue Reading Consumer fault is a red herring; Salmonella should be an adulterant in poultry

Editor’s note: This opinion column offers a differing view from that presented by guest columnist Brian Ronholm in “Eschewing obfuscation on poultry slaughter line speed.” 

Poultry slaughter would flunk HACCP 101. The primary hazards from raw poultry are the pathogens Salmonella and Campylobacter spp. FSIS visible poultry inspection
Continue Reading Slaughter practices more significant than poultry line speeds