TARTARE September Newsletter


Search Ohio State

Tartare Web Page  

TARTARE Newsletter, September/2020


We hope you enjoy our first issue of the TARTARE newsletter, a platform to provide the TARTARE team and stakeholders with a combination of updates about project activities, team member spotlights, current news surrounding relevant food safety topics from around the world, announcements, and upcoming events of interests. Please look for this newsletter every other month.

In This Issue


We would like to welcome our new TARTARE Project Manager Nasandra Wright M.P.H., R.S. Nasandra is a dedicated and experienced environmental health professional who is committed to developing and improving the delivery of food safety initiatives at the state, county, and local levels.  After spending nearly two decades working in the private sector and in public health, including stints as a Public Health Commissioner, Environmental Health Director, Project Manager, and Food Safety Specialist, Wright forged alliances and built support among various stakeholders in order to maximize the health and wellness of all persons within their communities. She seeks to strengthen food safety awareness and best practices within underserved communities.  Wright understands that inspiring teams to provide exemplary service requires a passion for helping individuals. She also believes that entities become empowered by collaborative ideals and focusing on reaching shared targets. 

As the Director of Environmental Health at the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, Wright spearheaded the leadership team responsible for resolving the West Virginia water crisis of 2014.  She partnered with media, local businesses, individuals, and the West Virginia National Guard during the unprecedented event. She worked with her internal team to develop the overall food safety policy for conditionally re-opening foodservice facilities and other permitted establishments during the crisis.  She also designed new approaches for implementing community-wide food safety programs and standards including a unique smart phone food application (App) for managing obesity. Further, she developed and implemented a county-wide food safety alert system capable of alerting permitted establishments of potential threats to customers within 60 seconds.

She brings a wealth of experience, expertise, and dedication to the Center for Foodborne Illness Research and Prevention team as the Program Manager for TARTARE: The Assessment and Management of Risk from Non-typhoidal Salmonella, Diarrheagenic Escherichia coli and Campylobacter in Raw Beef and Dairy in Ethiopia. 

Project Activities

A new graphic for the TARTARE project has been developed and can be viewed below:


A screenshot of a cell phone

Description automatically generated

Protocols for the Objective 1 Epidemiology studies (laboratory, healthcare worker, and community cross-sectional surveys and retrospective data analysis) have been submitted for ethical approvals at OSU and should be approved soon. Approvals will also be obtained from ILRI, University of Gondar, Haramaya University, Yekatit 12 and EPHI.


In relation to the Objective 2 Beef studies work, Dr. Jason Scheffler’s student Gabrielle Allen presented a talk titled “Control of E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella during production of Ethiopian Qwanta” for the International Congress of Meat Science and Technology that was held virtually from August 2nd -7th. You can view the presentation here (Must enter E-mail/Username: icomst2020@eposterboards.com and password icomst20). Further, now that Dr, Scheffler’s lab at the University of Florida is open, validation studies regarding 5-log reductions in NTS, STEC, and CAMPY from jerky processing procedures can begin.


As part of the Objective 2 Risk Assessment and Cost-Benefit Analysis, Dr. Mark Weir has been working with graduate students Pattama Ulrich and Madeline Lewis to create Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment (QMRA) models to model health risks associated with NTS, D-EC and CAMPY in raw beef and dairy products. Pattama was able to visit dairy facilities in and surrounding Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in March of this year to gather data to help inform these models. Dr. Scharff has also been able to start populating an empirical model regarding costs and benefits of interventions with data on industry characteristics and costs to be followed up with once data from the intervention studies is complete.


Objective 3 Risk Ranking and Prioritization activities continue as the report for the Scoping Workshop, held March 3’rd-6’th in Addis Ababa, was finalized and distributed to stakeholders in June. The report can be viewed here. A virtual Risk Assessment and Risk Ranking Course is scheduled to be taught as part of the Global One Health Summer Institute beginning at the end of September through the beginning of October. Recordings will be available afterward however, online Carmen Canvas courses developed by Dr. Morgan covering these topics are available here.  

As part of Objective 4 Capacity Building, construction for two new food safety-specific microbiology labs continues at the Ethiopian Public Health Institute (EPHI) in Addis Ababa and at the University of Gondar in Gondar. You can view progress on lab construction at EPHI here.

In the Spotlight

Achenef Melaku Beyene DVM, MSc, is a TARTARE fellow working on his PhD at the University of Gondar, Ethiopia that recently spent 6 months (end of 2019 beginning of 2020) here at The Ohio State University gaining research experience in Dr. Ahmed Yousef’s lab. Below, we have interviewed Dr. Achenef about his experience and current work.


What is your main research question as part of TARTARE?

As a part of TARTARE and my PhD work, I will try to find the best answers for the following questions:

  1. To what extent is food of animal origin, particularly raw meat and milk in and around Gondar, contaminated by non-typhoidal Salmonella (NTS) and Shiga Toxin producing E. coli (STEC)?
  2. What is the contribution of NTS and STEC to foodborne illness of the community in and around Gondar?
  3. Is there any molecular relationship among NTS and STEC isolates from human, animal, and food so as to assess the transmission dynamics and design appropriate control and prevention strategies?
  4. Is it possible to minimize contamination during the production of milk for dairy farmers by providing training on intervention techniques for dairy farmers?

What drew you to the field of Microbiology?

Microbes are part of our life, some of them cause disease in humans and animals; others are beneficial, particularly in dairy and other industries. So, to minimize the harmful effects and maximize the benefits, it is essential to know about them and work with them. In developing countries like Ethiopia, several diseases due to microbes are not yet controlled and introduce huge morbidity and mortality. These are all factors that drew my attention to learning more about them and deciding to work on them.

What are some of the methodologies you were able to learn throughout your experience at The Ohio State University in Dr. Yousef’s lab?

During my six months stay in Dr. Yousef’s laboratory, I got the opportunity to practice on a range of general techniques to specific molecular procedures. The first two months of my trainings were focused on general bacteriological techniques. This was followed by detection and confirmation of Salmonella in food samples using standard procedures. I collected samples in local and international food stores in Columbus and was able to analyze them. The detection procedure includes culturing of the food samples using nonselective and selective media. In addition, the suspected colonies of bacteria were confirmed by a biochemical test (API- 20E) and molecular producers (both conventional and multiplex PCR). Towards the end of the period, detecting Shiga toxin producing E. coli (STEC) was the focus of the training. In the meantime, I was able to attend lectures on food microbiology and molecular diagnosis of infectious diseases. Generally, I strongly believed that the training boosts my capacity and prepared me to conduct other microbiological or molecular techniques easily and efficiently.

Have you been able to implement any of these methodologies in Ethiopia?

Yes, the plan is to implement almost all procedures in Ethiopia under the TARTARE project. The methodologies will be applied to detect Salmonella and STEC in food of animal origin, particularly in raw meat and milk. However, the current COVID-19 pandemic is creating obstacles with implementing methodologies in Ethiopia.

What was your favorite or most enjoyable aspect of your experience at The Ohio State University?

I like the laboratory working environment, it is well-equipped and the necessary facilities are available. If there is a demand for reagents, the purchasing and delivery process was so quick. Working with the team in the laboratory with active follow up by the professor was so great. This was very interesting and allowed me to learn more. There was also a weekly lab meeting to assess progresses and solve problems if any. If such conditions were fulfilled in Gondar, I would have finished my PhD work within 6 additional months.

What are your greatest challenges thus far with implementation?

The greatest challenge to implementing methodologies acquired from Ohio is absence of a biosafety level II laboratory to handle Salmonella and other pathogens in the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Gondar. There was a plan to renovate one of our laboratories. The process was started; however, it has been interrupted due to the current pandemic. I am hoping that the process will be commenced and the issue will be resolved. Otherwise, we will have to look for other laboratories with better facilities.

Is there anything else you would like to share with us about your experience working in foodborne illness research with The Ohio State University?

Yes, I would like to acknowledge individuals and institutes that directly or indirectly helped me for the success of the training. I would like to thank Prof. Ahmed Yousef, Prof. Wondwossen A. Gebreyes, Dr. Ahmed G. Abdelhamid, and Dr. Barbara B. Kowalcyk for their technical assistance and guidance. I am also grateful to NIH Fogarty International center, OHEART, GOHI, East Africa Regional Office for the opportunity. I would like to extend my thanks to The Ohio State University International office for the reception and guidance to make my stay smooth and fruitful. The assistance of Kayleigh Gallagher was also so great, thank you. Finally, I would like to acknowledge lab members in the department of Food Science and Technology for their help during the practice.

Recent Publications

Article Summary: Assessing the Risks and Benefits of Advances in Science and Technology: Exploring the Potential of Qualitative Frameworks

Commentary by Allison Howell

When adequate quality data is available, quantitative approaches are very useful in providing concrete estimates of risk to inform decisions. However, there are many situations in which data is missing or of very low quality (e.g. sparse, biased, unrepresentative, unclear methods, lacking metadata, etc.) in which decisions still have to be made. TARTARE’s Kara Morgan was recently involved in a project using a qualitative risk framework to analyze the information in a situation with low quality data. This paper is summarized below.

During the 2019 Biological Weapons Convention in Geneva, a group of experts participated in a workshop that explored the use of qualitative frameworks for assessing risk. There are many different approaches that can be used for assessing risk of scientific and technical advances, but few of these methods also assess potential benefits of the technology. In Bowman et. al 2020, the authors detailed the workshop and further discussions among participants, presenting an argument supporting the use of qualitative frameworks in assessing potential risks and benefits of emerging technologies.

The authors defined a framework as “a basic structure underlying a system, concept, or test.” The use of a framework in decision making provides decision makers with comparable results to inform the decision. The framework is dependent upon the criteria that are important to the decision makers, and it allows those involved in making a decision to define important terminology and identify any assumptions or unanswered questions needed to make the decision. The use of a consistent, qualitative framework allows results to be compared across several different estimates.

At the BWC in 2019, experts from a variety of fields in science, technology, and policy took part in a workshop testing two qualitative frameworks. One framework was developed for the U.S. Department of Defense by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) in order to address biosafety concerns related to synthetic biology technologies and one was developed by Jonathon Tucker to assess risk and governance of dual use technologies. Participants in the workshop were provided with two hypothetical cases to address using the frameworks: 1) a change in transmissibility of an emerging viral pathogen as a result of efforts to develop a vaccine; and, 2) the development of a live microbial therapeutic designed to combat C. difficile in the gut microbiome.

Both groups provided similar results for the two different cases regardless of the framework being used. In discussions after the exercise, participants shared how the frameworks helped to identify assumptions that had been unknowingly made about different circumstances or availability of resources. Identification of these disagreements and assumptions helped push the conversation forward so a decision could be reached. Participants identified several important factors that must be included in the development of a qualitative framework for it to be effective for use in addressing concerns of the BWC. But overall the exercise was successful and participants supported the use of qualitative frameworks to guide these risk assessments. The Inter Academy Partnership and NASEM have plans to continue developing qualitative frameworks for efforts that one will be suitable for the goals of the BWC.

Reference: Bowman K, Husbands JL, Feakes D, McGrath PF, Connell N, Morgan K. Assessing the risks and benefits of advances in science and technology: exploring the potential of qualitative frameworks. Health security. 2020;18(3):186-194. doi:10.1089/hs.2019.0134


As of 2 September, the UK Department for International Development (DFID) has ceased to exist and UK government support now comes from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO). You can find out more about this new department here. The logo files are available here, and the usual branding guidelines for use of the logo are here. The FCDO name should be used on all live documents, including project websites. Older documents which make reference to ‘DFID’ do not need to be amended retrospectively.

The Ohio State University spring break for the year 2021 will be replaced by two instructional breaks, one on Tuesday, Feb. 9, and one on Wednesday, March 31, where there will be no classes. The intent to reduce travel-related exposures to COVID-19. Click here for more information regarding issues related to The Ohio State University and COVID-19 response.

Upcoming Events of Interest

1.    The TARTARE monthly webinar occurs the first Wednesday of every month from 9:00-10:00am EDT/EST. The next webinar will be held on Wednesday, October 7’th when we will be hearing from our TARTARE fellows about progress on their proposal development. Dr. Eyasu of EPHI, working on the TARTARE Disease Burden, Dairy, and Beef teams, will be presenting at our webinar on Wednesday, November 4’th.

2.     Changing food safety behaviors in the era of COVID-19: using the Ethiopian dairy value chain as a model. Date TBA (late September/early October), Webinar

3.     The International Association for Food Protection (IAFP) Annual MeetingOctober 26-28, virtual. https://www.foodprotection.org/annualmeeting/

4.     Global One Health Conference- Strengthening Global Resilience Through One Health: A 2020 Vision for a Sustainable FutureNovember 5-7, from 8 a.m.-12 p.m. EST, virtual through Zoom. https://globalonehealth.osu.edu/about-us/events/2020-one-health-day-conference

5.     Society for Risk Analysis Annual Meeting- Risk Science for SustainabilityDecember 13-17, Austin, Texas, USA. https://www.sra.org/events/annual-meeting/ Dr. Kara Morgan will be presenting “Risk-based Decision Making: Working toward a Standard Definition.” This presentation was developed to help inform work about building a road map for a risk-based food safety system.


Please send any newsletter items to Laura Binkley at binkley.69@osu.edu