Dennis D’Amico is an Associate Professor of Dairy Foods in the Department of Animal Science at the University of Connecticut where his research and outreach efforts focus on improving the safety and quality of milk and value-added dairy products. He received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Nutrition and Food Sciences and his Ph.D. in Food Microbiology from the University of Vermont. Prior to joining the faculty at UConn he was a founding member of the Vermont Institute for Artisan Cheese where he served as Senior Research Scientist and Lecturer working closely with the artisan cheese industry to develop risk reduction interventions and technical outreach programs. His research continues to examine the presence, ecology, and diversity of microbes in the cheesemaking continuum as well as the natural and novel means of controlling them with a focus on the development and use of natural interventions. Dennis has published more than 60 peer reviewed articles and abstracts on the topic of dairy food safety and quality. He also serves on the board of directors of the American Cheese Society and is an active member of several food safety organizations.
Areas of Expertise (5)
Food Safety Standards
University of Vermont: Ph.D., Food Microbiology
University of Vermont: M.S., Food Microbiology/Technology
University of Vermont: B.S., Nutrition and Food Sciences
University of Vermont College of Agriculture and Life Sciences New Achiever Alumni Award (professional)
The New Achiever Alumni Award recognizes and honors individuals who earned an undergraduate or graduate degree in the last 15 years (2003-2017) from a program currently or formerly affiliated with the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
Media Appearances (3)
The Foods to Avoid When You’re Pregnant
New York Times - Parenting online
As with refrigerated meat and unpasteurized dairy products, cheese can harbor listeria and other pathogens. But unlike the “cook it or skip it” recommendation for meat products, the advice on cheese isn’t always straightforward. In general, the softer — and wetter — a cheese gets, the more you have to worry about pathogens surviving and growing. Bacteria like moisture, said Dr. Dennis D’Amico, Ph.D., a professor of food microbiology at the University of Connecticut, so pathogens tend to grow on soft cheeses more quickly than they grow on harder ones.
The Quest for a Totally American Cheese
Smithsonian Magazine print
Since October, Dennis D’Amico, an assistant professor in the department of animal science at the University of Connecticut, has been analyzing microbe samples from each Cornerstone producer. Soon, he will be comparing them with results from a professional tasting panel. The results should help set a microbiotic and flavor baseline for Cornerstone.
What’s True (and Totally Not True) About Cheese and Pregnancy
That being said, it’s not the only question to ask. “Pasteurization does not protect against post-pasteurization contamination of milk or cheese,” says Dr. Dennis D’Amico, a professor in the Department of Animal Science at University of Connecticut. While all cheeses, whether domestic or imported, sold in the United States must meet FDA safety standards, contamination can happen in the processing environment.
Applications of Edible Coatings Formulated with Antimicrobials Inhibit Listeria monocytogenes Growth on Queso FrescoFront. Sustain. Food Syst.
Stephanie R. B. Brown, Sarah M. Kozak and Dennis J. D’Amico
2018 Despite efforts to control Listeria monocytogenes in dairy processing environments, contamination and subsequent outbreaks of listeriosis continue to occur. The ability of L. monocytogenes to grow during refrigerated storage necessitates strategies to prevent contamination, reduce pathogen numbers, and limit growth during storage.
Efficacy of Antimicrobials Applied Individually and in Combination for Controlling Listeria monocytogenes as Surface Contaminants on Queso FrescoJournal of Food Protection
Sarah M. Kozak, Yustyna Bobak, and Dennis J. D'Amico
2018 The objectives of this study were to determine the efficacy of these antimicrobials used individually and in combination to control L. monocytogenes as surface contaminants on QF and to identify additive and synergistic interactions.
Acidification of Model Cheese Brines To Control Listeria monocytogenesJournal of Food Protection
Stephanie R. B. Brown, Nathalia C. Millán-Borrero, Jeffrey C. Carbonella, Anthony J. P. Micheletti, and Dennis J. D'Amico
2018 Cheese brines are often used for prolonged periods, with adjustments made only to pH and salt content. Pathogens, including Salmonella enterica Typhimurium, Escherichia coli O157:H7, and Listeria monocytogenes, have been shown to survive long periods in model and commercial brines under common brining conditions.
Effect of modified atmosphere packaging on the growth of spoilage microorganisms and Listeria monocytogenes on fresh cheeseJournal of Dairy Science
Stephanie R.B. Brown, Emily C. Forauer, Dennis J. D'Amico
2017 Queso Fresco has a limited shelf life and has been shown to support the rapid growth of Listeria monocytogenes during refrigerated storage. In addition to improving quality and extending shelf life, modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) has been used to control the growth of pathogenic microorganisms in foods. The objectives of this study were to determine the effects of MAP conditions on the survival and growth of spoilage microorganisms and L. monocytogenes during storage of Queso Fresco manufactured without starter cultures.
Control of Listeria monocytogenes in whole milk using antimicrobials applied individually and in combinationJournal of Dairy Science
Sarah M. Kozak, Stephanie R.B. Brown, Yustyna Bobak, Dennis J. D'Amico
2017 Dairy product recalls and dairy-related illnesses are often the result of contamination with Listeria monocytogenes, which can occur throughout the dairy production and supply chains. The use of antimicrobial compounds is one practical approach for controlling pathogen survival and growth in foods.
Synergistic Antimicrobial Combinations Inhibit and Inactivate Listeria monocytogenes in Neutral and Acidic Broth SystemsJournal of Food Protection
Sarah M. Kozak, Kyle M. Margison, and Dennis J. D'amico
2017 The use of antimicrobial compounds can be an effective approach to control Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat foods, but it can also be limited by cost, restrictions on concentrations in foods, and potential changes to organoleptic properties. Combinatorial approaches that produce additive or synergistic effects allow for reductions in individual antimicrobial concentrations while achieving the same level of control.