Claire Zoellner, Ph.D awarded with the The Frozen Food Foundation Freezing Research Award
By Ana Laura Alonso
October 20, 2020
The International Association for Food Protection (IAFP) announced the 2020 Award Recipients. The Frozen Food Foundation Freezing Research Award winner is Claire Zoellner, Ph.D. The award honors an individual, group, or organization for preeminence and outstanding contributions in research that impacts food safety attributes of freezing.
“It’s an honor to be among the scientists who have received this award and to have worked with the industry on advancing food safety awareness and practices for frozen foods” said Zoellner.
Dr. Claire Zoellner has made significant contributions to enhance the safety of frozen foods, particularly in addressing the risk of Listeria monocytogenes contamination. This includes recent accomplishments in research (e.g., modeling work on Listeria monocytogenes and three open-access peer-reviewed publications) that have resulted in workshops, invited talks, and commercialization opportunities to introduce new risk assessment tools to the frozen food industry.
As the Postdoctoral Research Associate spearheading the Frozen Food Foundation funded research project “Development of mathematical models that can be used to develop environmental sampling programs for Listeria and assess L. monocytogenes-associated public health risks in the frozen food industry” (PI: Martin Wiedmann, Co-PI: Renata Ivanek), Claire Zoellner combined existing research and guidance documents on Listeria in food processing environments, mapping out the gaps in resources for the frozen food industry.
As a result, two new modeling tools for the industry were created:
· EnABLe: used to design and execute risk-based environmental monitoring programs.
· FFLLoRA: quantifies the public health impact from low-level contamination in non-RTE frozen foods, including under abuse scenarios
Claire Zoellner holds a B.S. in Food Science and Human Nutrition from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and a Ph.D. in Food Science and Technology with minors in Epidemiology and Systems Engineering from Cornell University. Her foray into food safety began with a doctoral USDA National Needs Fellowship in International Food Safety, which she used to study microbial dynamics in an international supply chain of fresh tomatoes. For the impact and practicality of this research, Claire was awarded the Phi Tau Sigma Founders’ Award, and was recognized as an emerging leader in food science with IFT’s 2019 Emerging Leaders Network Award.
Claire is a Food Safety Scientist at iFoodDecisionSciences, Inc. (iFoodDS), a software company offering EnABLe for widespread industry use. She uses her expertise in microbial contamination, simulation models, and risk assessment to develop and deliver pragmatic, science-based software tools for the food industry.
These models and Claire’s research contributions to the frozen food sector may facilitate the adoption of more digital risk-based food safety programs to help control Listeria monocytogenes.
“I’m impressed by the investment and momentum coming from the frozen food sector to be proactive in tackling food safety risks not only within their facilities and products, but also with educating consumer[s],” Zoellner mentioned. “We’re seeing an industry-wide trend towards modernization of food safety systems and I think the Frozen Food Foundation’s collaborative research between industry and academia has been, and continues to be, the key to developing new food safety approaches and policies that make the frozen food sector a leader in that transformation”.
For a personal consultation on your company’s environmental monitoring program needs, please contact sales@iFoodDS.com or call 206.219.3703 to learn more about iFoodDS’ food supply chain safety and quality solutions.