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Featured Profile: Azlin Mustapha

Azlin Mustapha

University of Missouri microbiologist Dr. Azlin Mustapha investigates how bacteria can help and harm.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, microbial food-borne diseases affect roughly one in six Americans annually. One of the challenges in combating foodborne diseases lies in detection methods for foodborne pathogens, which are time consuming, labor intensive and often not very accurate or sensitive. In her research, Mustapha has focused on developing rapid, sensitive and selective molecular techniques to detect food-borne pathogens such as disease-causing E. coli and Salmonella, including discriminative detection of only live cells and detection of antibiotic resistant pathogens in food. Additionally, she investigates how natural novel antimicrobial compounds can promote food safety, increase the shelf life of foods and kill bacteria.

Recently, she and colleagues in MU’s Food Science Program have examined nanomaterials, including zinc oxide nanoparticles, nanosilver and graphene oxide thought to have antibacterial properties. Their results show that these nanomaterials are inhibitory towards certain pathogenic bacteria but not towards “friendly” bacteria that live in the gut, nor mammalian cells. This data suggest that certain nanomaterials are biocompatible and could safely be used in food packaging.

Dr. Azlin Mustapha is professor of food microbiology and director of graduate studies in the Food Science Program in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. She is a member of the American Society for Microbiology, the International Association for Food Protection and the Institute of Food Technologists.

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Related Initiative(s):
Food for the Future