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.

The most recent outbreak from Escherichia coli O157:H7 in romaine lettuce spurred me to pull up an old draft, trim it and post it in an attempt to promote public health. Enjoy. 

In the Spring of 2017 while sprinkling balsamic vinegar over chopped romaine lettuce, I wondered if anyone had published on the bactericidal effect…

My previous articles have outlined that certain strains of Salmonella are virulent and pathogenic to humans. As such, they are adulterants by definition of the Meat and Poultry Inspection Acts, even in raw meat or poultry products. These pathogenic strains can be identified by their pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) profile or other genetic assays.…

Controlling Salmonella or other pathogens would cost producers, and the cost would be expected to be transferred to processors and consumers. For animal pathogens, the USDA’s APHIS bears some of the burden and indemnifies producers for destroyed flocks. Many producers currently bear the cost of preventing animal pathogens from infecting their flocks and herds through…

One of the arguments against attempts to control Salmonella is that it is naturally occurring and impossible to eradicate. According to several scientific studies, that is not true. During 1978-1981, B.S. Pomeroy at the University of Minnesota grew Salmonella-free turkeys primarily by selecting Salmonella-free hatchlings, feeding Salmonella-free feed and isolating the flock. “Hatching eggs from…

Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) labels are not always informative. The warning label prescribed in 9 C.F.R. 317.2(l) and 381.125(b) has faded into the background of consumer’s awareness by overuse. Other terms such as “uncooked” or “ready to cook” for partially cooked or breaded products are not as clear as “raw” or “contains raw…

When Michael Taylor declared Escherichia coli O157:H7 an adulterant in ground beef, there were howls of, “Just cook it,” from the industry and from within FSIS. For example, two members of FSIS’ Microbiology Division were adamant in their declaration that cooking was sufficient and quoted from the 1975 American Public Health Association, et al., Appellants,…

The genus Salmonella is diverse. Currently there are three recognized species: S. enterica, S. bongori and S. subterranean, with S. enterica the most important specie affecting human and food animal health. However, even the species S. enterica is diverse. Unlike most bacterial genera, Salmonella is best known by the Kauffman-White system serotypes that are based…

In 2013, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that more than 500 people were sickened by seven strains of Salmonella Heidelberg linked to chicken. However, salmonellosis caused by Salmonella Heidelberg is only in fourth place, according to CDC’s outbreak data; in 2011, it was only in seventh place. Salmonellosis is…