Associate Professor of Food Microbiology and Safety
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
Michelle Danyluk’s work primarily focuses on Salmonella in produce, produce production environments and processed produce products, and the subsequent implications for public health. Her research program aims to address how and why foodborne pathogens survive in these environments, what role these environments play in the contamination of food, mechanisms of cross-contamination, and how virulence, resistance, and movement of pathogens are influenced by the environmental source. A current focus of Danyluk’s research program is evaluating the pre-harvest contamination potential for Florida fruits and vegetables. Of particular interest are her ongoing agricultural water studies, where she is attempting to understand the prevalence, concentration, diversity, and public health significance of Salmonella in Florida surface waters, its relationship to indicator organisms, the implications of its presence in water that may contact the harvestable portion of a crop, and how it can be mitigated in large volumes of agricultural waters. In the harvest and post-harvest environment, Danyluk’s ongoing projects include: establishing operation standards for sanitizing agents, pathogen transfer and fate while packing and shipping, risks related to alternative harvesting and handling practices, and establishment of sanitation standard operating procedures (SSOPs) to prevent post-harvest contamination. Danyluk’s research program also addresses risk factors for the contamination, persistence, and mitigation of Salmonella in tree nuts (pecans). In addition, she works on citrus juice quality. Alicyclobacillus spp., are a thermoacidophilic, aerobic, spore-forming bacteria, capable of surviving pasteurization or concentration and growing in acidic fruit juices leading to microbial spoilage.