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Faculty Profile

Faith Critzer

Associate Professor

Fresh Produce Safety
Foodborne Pathogen Stress Response
Microbial Ecology of Foodborne Pathogens


Food Safety and Processing Bldg.
2600 River Dr.
RM 103
Knoxville, TN 37996


Doctorate of Philosophy, University of Tennessee, Food Science & Technology, 2008
Master of Science, University of Tennessee, Food Science & Technology, 2004
Bachelor of Science, University of Tennessee, Food Science & Technology, 2003

Current Research

The primary focus of my research program is centered on finding food safety solutions for fruit and vegetable growers. Our fresh fruit and vegetable supply is vulnerable to contamination with foodborne pathogens that are ubiquitous in the environment. The goals of my research are to 1) better understand the ecology of foodborne pathogens in the field, 2) determine where risks are likely to occur during production, and 3) determine practical solutions that can be applied to mitigate these risks. This research is primarily applied in nature, but also consists of some basic research questions. In order to accomplish this work, I have formed strong collaborative ties within the University of Tennessee as well as other institutions with fellow food microbiologists, food chemists, fruit and vegetable horticulture specialists, and agricultural engineers. These teams have been very successful in securing extramural funds that exceed $8.1 million dollars since October of 2011, of which over $1.3 million in funding has gone towards my programs in research and extension.

Most recently, I have been investigating: 1) the transfer of foodborne pathogens (Shiga Toxigenic Escherichia coli; STEC) to produce from contaminated irrigation water and the ability of this organism to survive throughout harvest; 2) water treatment mitigation strategies such as chlorine, peroxyacetic acid, and UV light to evaluate their application for in-line treatment of irrigation water to inactivate foodborne pathogens such as STEC and Salmonella; 3) the ability of foodborne pathogens to contaminate produce when supplied through traditional irrigation water delivery and cropping practices to support the recommendation for production practices such as drip irrigation and plastic mulch; 4) the application of novel antimicrobial systems, such as emulsified essential oils, in post-harvest wash water to inactivate foodborne pathogens on contaminated produce and inhibit transfer to uncontaminated produce. The outcomes of these projects will be disseminated to the scientific community through peer-reviewed research, but most importantly they will conveyed to fruit and vegetable growers, policy makers, and the fresh-cut processing industry for immediate consideration.


Zhang, Y., H. chen, F. Critzer, P. Davidson, and Q. Zhong. 2017. Potential of cinnamon oil emulsions as alternative washing solutions of carrots. J Food Prot. 80(6): 994-1001.
Harrison, J., F. Critzer, and M. Harrison. 2016. Regulatory and food safety knowledge gaps associated with small and very small food businesses as identified by regulators and food safety educators- implications for food safety training. Food Prot. Trends 36(6): 420-427.
Q. Ma, Zhang, Y., F. Critzer, P.M. Davidson, Q. Zhong. 2016. Quality attributes and microbial survival on whole cantaloupes with antimicrobial coatings containing chitosan, lauric arginate, cinnamon oil and ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid. Int J Food Microbiol. 235:103-108.
Q. Ma, Zhang, Y., F. Critzer, P.M. Davidson, Q. Zhong. 2016. Antimicrobial activities of lauric arginate and cinnamon oil combination against foodborne pathogens: Improvement by ethylenediaminetetraacetate and possible mechanisms. LWT Food Sci Technol. 72:9-18.
Zhang, Y., Q. Ma, F. Critzer, P.M. Davidson, Q. Zhong. 2016. Organic thyme oil emulsion as an alternative washing solution to enhance the microbial safety of organic cantaloupes. Food Control 67: 31-38.
Monu, E.A., C. Techathuvanan, A. Wallis, F.J. Critzer, P.M. Davidson. 2016. Plant essential oils and components on growth of spoilage yeasts in microbiological media and a model salad dressing. Food Control 65: 73-77.
Dunn, L.L., P.M. Davidson, F.J. Critzer. 2016. Antimicrobial Efficacy of an Array of Essential Oils Against Lactic Acid Bacteria. J Food Sci. 81(2): M438-M444.
Ma, Q., Y. Zhang, F. Critzer, P.M. Davidson, S. Zivanovic, Q. Zhong. 2016. Physical, mechanical, and antimicrobial properties of chitosan films with microemulsions of cinnamon bark oil and soybean oil. Food Hydrocolloid. 52: 533-542.
Zhang, Y., Q. Ma, F. Critzer, P.M. Davidson, Q. Zhong. 2015. Effect of alginate coatings with cinnamon bark oil and soybean oil on quality and microbiological safety of cantaloupe. Int. J. Food Microbiol. 215: 25-30.
Zhang, Y., M. Qiumin, F. Critzer, P.M. Davidson, Q. Zhong. 2015. Physical and antibacterial properties of alginate films containing cinnamon bark oil and soybean oil. LWT Food Sci. Tech. 64(1): 423-430.
Chen, W., D. A. Golden, F. Critzer, and P.M. Davidson. 2015. Antimicrobial Activity of Cinnamaldehyde, Carvacrol, and Lauric Arginate against Salmonella Tennessee in a Glycerol-Sucrose Model and Peanut Paste at Different Fat Concentrations. J Food Prot. 78(8):1488-1495.
Zhang, L.H., F.J. Critzer, P.M. Davidson, Q.X. Zhong. 2014. Formulating essential oil microemulsions as washing solutions for organic fresh produce production. Food Chem. 165: 113-118.
Chen, W., D. A. Golden, and F. Critzer.  2014.  Salmonella Survival and Differential Expression of Fatty Acid Biosynthesis Associated Genes in a Low Water Activity Food.  Lett. Appl. Microbiol. 59(2): 133-138.
Luo, Y.C., Y. Zhang, K. Pan, F.J. Critzer, P.M. Davidson, and Q. Zhong. Self-emulsification of Alkaline-dissoved Clove Bud Oil by Whey Protein, Gum Arabic, Lecithin, and Their Combinations. J. Agric. Food Chem. 62 (19) 4417-4424.
Andino, A., S. Pendelton, N. Zhang, W. Chen, F. Critzer, and I. Hanning. 2014. Survival of Salmonella enterica in poultry feed is strain dependent. Poult Sci. 93(2):441-447.
Davidson, P.M., F.J. Critzer, and T.M. Taylor. 2013. Naturally Occurring Antimicrobials for Minimally Processed Foods. Ann. Rev. Food Sci. Technol. 4: 163-190.
Critzer, F.J. and M.P. Doyle. 2010. Microbial Ecology of Foodborne Pathogens Associated with Produce. Curr. Opin. Biotechnol. 21(2): 125-130.
Critzer, F.J., D.H. D’Souza, A.M. Saxton, D.A. Golden. 2010. Increased Transcription of the Phosphate Specific Transport (Pst) System of Escherichia coli O157:H7 After Exposure to Sodium Benzoate. J. Food Prot. 73(5): 819-824.
D'Souza D.H., Critzer F.J., Golden D.A. 2009. Real-Time Reverse-Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction for the Rapid Detection of Salmonella Using invA Primers. Foodborne Path. Dis. 6:1097-1106.
Critzer, F.J., D.H. D’Souza, and D.A. Golden. 2008. Transcription analysis of stx1, marA, and eaeA genes in Escherichia coli O157:H7 treated with sodium benzoate. J. Food Prot. 71(7): 1469-1474.
Pedigo, A.S., F.J. Critzer, and D.A. Golden. 2007. Inactivation of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in apple juice as affected by cranberry juice concentration and holding temperature. Food Prot. Trends 27(12): 952-956.
Critzer, F.J., K. Kelly-Wintenberg, S. South, J.R. Roth, and D.A. Golden. 2007. Atmospheric plasma inactivation of foodborne pathogens on fresh produce surfaces. J. Food Prot. 70(10): 2290-2296.
Kayes, M.M., F.J. Critzer, K. Kelly-Wintenberg, J.R. Roth, T.C. Montie, and D.A. Golden. 2006. Inactivation of foodborne pathogens using a one atmosphere uniform glow discharge plasma. Foodborne Path. Dis. 4(1):50-59..

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