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Ellen Thomas

Ellen Thomas, M.S.
Graduate Research Assistant, PhD student
Department of Food, Bioprocessing, and Nutrition Sciences
Food Safety Concentration
North Carolina State University

Interest areas
Pre-harvest food safety
Food safety education

Research project

Ellen began her PhD in the fall of 2012. The Food Code stipulates that it is the duty of the restaurant menu and server to disclose risk information and serve as a reminder as a part of ordering. Ellen’s research will focus on how restaurants communicate about the risk associated with eating undercooked hamburgers. The goal output from this study is to determine what information is disclosed to the consumer; basically, how are they reminded of risk, if at all? This information will be collected from the menu and during ordering. After compiling this data and reviewing the literature, a framework will be developed in order to suggest improvements to how risk communication is currently conducted.
Ellen’s Master’s research focused on tracing temperatures of cut leafy greens during transportation and service. North Carolina is in the process of adopting the 2009 FDA Food Code, and one new regulation requires that cut leafy greens must be received at restaurants at 5°C or less. One of Ellen’s projects tracked the temperatures of leafy greens stored in different types of coolers with ice and ice packs to determine whether these holding methods were effective. The second portion of Ellen’s research tracked temperatures of leafy greens served in clamshell containers in schools across North Carolina. The focus was temperatures during serving time, as policymakers were unsure whether their serving methods were effective in maintaining temperature. The temperature data collected will be used in a pathogen modeling program to use in risk assessments. Both of these components can be used in risk modeling decisions by industry and policymakers.

Ellen is originally from Fryburg, Pennsylvania. She graduated from Davidson College in 2010 with a degree in Biology. She completed her M.S. in Food Science in the summer of 2012 with a concentration in Food Safety at NC State and is now working towards her PhD in Food Science.

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