Agricultural Research Service

Microbes battling microbes. This type of warfare is happening all around us — and even inside of us — every day. And as in every battle, there are good microbes and bad microbes, depending on what you want the outcome to be. Tiny bacteriophages attack larger microscopic organisms such as viruses. Tiny bacteriophages attack larger microscopic organisms such as viruses…

Bacteriophage_406x250The increasing global attention to the threat of antibiotic resistance has spurred research and development of antimicrobial alternatives. Once such alternative is bacteriophages. Bacteriophages are viruses that infect and kill bacteria. There are thousands of different types and they are so abundant in the environment – an estimated 1030 live on the planet –…

Hyun Lillehoj, Ph.D., has won an “Oscar of government service” for her work in food safety at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In her 30 years with USDA, Lillehoj has studied the immune systems of chickens and turkeys and worked to reduce and treat parasitic and bacterial poultry diseases. Lillehoj, a senior research molecular biologist…

Scientists at USDA’s Agricultural Research Service Western Regional Research Center in Albany, CA, have come up with a less-expensive way to detect biologically active Shiga toxin, a product of pathogenic Escherichia coli serotype O157:H7. ARS camera systemIt is estimated that E. coli O157:H7 causes 73,000 cases of food poisoning and more than 60 deaths in the United…

Chlorine dioxide gas may be an effective tool for combating Salmonella on sprouts, according to a new study. Researchers at Rutgers University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) have found that chlorine dioxide gas is more effective at killing Salmonella on bean sprouts than chlorine wash — the industry-preferred decontamination technique.…

Government agencies in charge of monitoring food for pesticide residues must step up their testing programs, said the Government Accountability Office in a new report. While data collected by these agencies has shown low levels of pesticide residue violations in the past few years, shortcomings in sampling methods mean some residue violations may be going…

Raw chicken eggs are in many commonly consumed foods – eggnog, hollandaise sauce and mayonnaise, to name a few – and since about one of every 20,000 chicken eggs in the U.S. runs a high risk of containing Salmonella bacteria, the only way to be sure these bacteria are killed is to hard-boil the eggs…

Olive powder, a substance derived from de-fatting and de-stoning olives, could be effective in combatting both E. coli bacteria and two known carcinogens, government researchers have found. Scientists at the Agricultural Research Service, a branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the University of Arizona- Tucson have discovered that olive powder reduces the…

A chemical that inhibits insect growth may help combat the spread of foodborne bacteria carried by house flies, according to new research from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Scientists at USDA’s Agricultural Research Service have found that pyriproxyfen – a pesticide that’s been shown to stunt mosquito growth – has the same effect on fly…

A new method of testing for Salmonella could shorten the time it takes to detect the bacteria in food samples.

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Researchers at the Agricultural Research Service’s Quality and Safety Assessment Unit in Athens, GA are using a technique called surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS), in which light from a laser is directed at a sample specimen,…

Americans are getting about one-third of all their daily calories from the “empty calories” of snack foods  – that is, from solid fats and added sugar of little nutritional value, according to the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS).

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On a positive note, however, the ARS says one-third of Americans’ daily fruit intake — which is …