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Top honor goes to UGA food microbiologist

By Sharon Omahen
University of Georgia

University of Georgia food microbiologist Larry Beuchat has received the 2004 Nicholas Appert Award from the Institute of Food Technologists. The award, IFT's highest honor, recognizes outstanding contributions to food technology.

A Distinguished Research Professor in the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Beuchat conducts research at the Center for Food Safety in Griffin, Ga.

International leader

"Larry Beuchat is a world-renowned food mycologist and bacteriologist," said Michael P. Doyle, director of the center. "He has been, through his research and involvement in advisory committees, an international leader in improving the microbiological safety of fresh produce."

Beuchat is one of five UGA food scientists to get the Appert award. The others were Doyle (1996), John J. Powers (1984), J.G. Woodroof (1978) and John C. Ayres (1972).

Beuchat conducted much of the pioneering work to better understand the ecology of the bacteria on raw fruits and vegetables that cause illnesses in humans. He has contributed significantly to food mycology (fungal food pathogens).

His research focuses on the microbiology of fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes. He studies methods of detecting yeasts, molds and pathogenic bacteria, relationships between water and microbial growth and fermented foods and food preservatives.

Advises UGA students, too

As a professor in the UGA Department of Food Science and Technology, Beuchat also advises graduate students in their studies.

"Despite all of his accomplishments," said graduate student Manan Sharma, "Dr. Beuchat remains very much engaged in advising and guiding students like myself through their research projects. He is one of the most humble men I have ever met and truly deserving of this honor."

Before joining the university faculty in 1972, Beuchat held positions with H.J. Heinz, Hanover Brands Inc. and Quaker Oats.

Over the past 32 years, he has won many UGA honors: the D.W. Brooks Faculty Award, Distinguished Faculty Research Award, Gamma Sigma Delta Senior Faculty Award, Outstanding Graduate Professor, Distinguished Research Professor and Research Professor.

His industry honors include the Indo-American Fellowship, Fulbright Senior Lecturer Award, Sir Frederick McMaster Fellowship, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Donald C. Mackel Award (co-recipient) and "Food Safety" Magazine's Distinguished Service Award. He also received the Outstanding Alumnus Award from both Penn State University and Michigan State University.

Beuchat has been named a fellow by IFT, the American Academy of Microbiology and the International Association for Food Protection. He is also a member of the International Association of Food Protection, the American Society of Microbiology, the Society for Applied Microbiology and the International Fresh-cut Produce Association.

Edits, publishes food science publications

He was associate editor of the "Journal of Food Science" and scientific co-editor of the "Journal of Food Protection." He currently serves on the editorial boards of two scientific journals, "Food Microbiology" and the "International Journal of Food Microbiology."

Beuchat has authored or co-authored five books and 1,074 scientific publications, including 433 refereed journal articles. He serves on the boards of the National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service's National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods.

(Sharon Omahen is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

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