Assistant Specialist in Cooperative Extension
Food Science and Technology
DiCaprio, a Cooperative Extension assistant specialist in the Department of Food Science and Technology, focuses on microbial food safety with an emphasis in foodborne viruses. DiCaprio completed her Ph.D. in Comparative and Preventative Veterinary Medicine from the Ohio State University before joining the faculty at UC Davis in 2016.
Food safety; food microbiology; food virology; fresh produce safety; community food safety
Viruses are a leading cause of foodborne disease. Foods with a high risk for viral contamination include fresh produce, shellfish, and ready-to-eat foods, such as salads and sandwiches. Humans are the only source of the most prevalent foodborne viruses, norovirus and hepatitis A, which typically contaminate foods through water sources containing human waste or through food-handler cross contamination. (This differs from foodborne bacterial pathogens, which are often traced, to livestock or wildlife.)
My research focuses on finding the mechanisms by which foodborne viruses contaminate fresh produce during production and processing and which biological and environmental factors influence viral persistence in these foods. I also work to mitigate viral contamination in high-risk foods using non-thermal processing technologies and by educating food handlers and consumers to increase awareness and minimize risk.
- Determine the impact of norovirus contamination in irrigation water on fresh produce safety
- Investigate acquired resistance by foodborne virus to thermal and non-thermal processing technologies
- Evaluate the prevalence of foodborne viruses in retail fresh produce