Prof. Jeffrey Farber

Prof. Jeffrey Farber, director of the Canadian Research Institute for Food Safety at U of G, spoke with CBC News about a national recall of bagged kale over listeria fears.

Farber is a food microbiologist with the Department of Food Science and is one of the country’s foremost experts on listeria.

He noted that listeria is a highly dangerous pathogen that can multiply in a refrigerator and can persist even after food is washed.

While the first listeria bacteria strains were discovered in 1940, Farber said, the bacteria wasn’t linked to food contamination in Canada until 1981. Since then, several outbreaks have killed hundreds of people. Farber commented that many of these outbreaks are due to the lack of basic, proper manufacturing and sterilization practices.

Farber’s research aims to develop new strategies to control food-borne pathogens, new models to understand the host/pathogen relationships and disease modelling tools to predict events that might lead to the emergence of new food-borne pathogens.