Linda J. Harris awarded the William C. Frazier Memorial Lectureship in Food Microbiology

Linda J. Harris and William C. Frazier Memorial Lectureship Award
Linda receiving the William C. Frazier Memorial Lectureship Award from Kathleen Glass, Associate Director, Food Research Institute
Zann Gates

Linda J. Harris was awarded the William C. Frazier Memorial Lectureship in Food Microbiology by the Food Research Institute in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at University of Wisconsin-Madison. The award was presented at the FRI's 2023 Spring Meeting on May 16, 2023 in Madison, Wisconsin.

In Linda's Lectureship presentation, "Nuts! How a foodborne outbreak serendipitously shaped a career", she described how in 2001, an outbreak of salmonellosis was linked, for the first time, to consumption of raw California almonds. The traceback investigation identified the outbreak strain in the almonds at retail and all along the supply chain back to the orchard. As the outbreak investigation was winding down, Linda’s laboratory was beginning what became a 20+ year journey investigating Salmonella and almonds from production agriculture through final consumption. Studies sought to uncover potential routes of contamination and long-term environmental persistence of Salmonella during production, harvest and postharvest handling. Laboratory studies focused on methods to inoculate and recover microorganisms from almonds, survival of pathogens on almonds during storage, and evaluation of the thermal resistance of pathogens and candidate surrogates.

These data, along with information on the prevalence and levels of Salmonella in almonds, enabled the development of quantitative microbial risk assessments, the establishment of appropriate target reductions for lethality process controls, and validation of several key commercial practices such as blanching and oil roasting. More recent studies have explored the risks associated with soaking almonds and a range of dairy analogs made from them.

Since worldwide nut production has expanded rapidly over the past 20 years with a corresponding increase in consumption, Harris and her laboratory's work with the behavior, movement, prevalence, and especially control of foodborne pathogens, from the field to consumer handling, from almonds to pistachios and walnuts, has been and will continue to be a foundation for food safety tree nut and produce research.

Congratulations, Linda!