FDSN Spring 2024 Seminar Series: Catherine Rolfe


Catherine Rolfe

The Department of Food Science and Nutrition presents its spring 2024 seminar series featuring guest speaker Catherine Rolfe, research biologist for the United States Food and Drug Administration, who will give a presentation on “A Food Safety Perspective on Cold Brew Coffee.” This seminar will take place on Thursday, April 18, from 12:45–1:45 p.m. over Zoom.


Cold brew coffee has been increasing in popularity within the beverage industry. In contrast to iced coffee, cold brew coffee preparation involves water extraction for an extended time without the application of heat. In the absence of a heat treatment, cold brewed coffee may be considered a higher risk in terms of microbial safety. Hot brewed coffee has exhibited antimicrobial properties, yet the antimicrobial properties of cold brew coffee are not well understood. The brewing temperature is known to affect the aqueous solubility of compounds, likely resulting in different chemical composition and antimicrobial properties between hot brewed and cold brewed coffees. There is currently a lack of information on the antimicrobial properties related to cold brew coffee and no standard guidelines for validation of shelf-stable cold brewed products.


Catherine Rolfe joined the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in September 2020 and serves as a research biologist, primarily working in biological select agents and toxins research with a focus on challenge studies and inactivation strategies for control of Clostridium botulinum. Prior to joining the FDA, Rolfe received her Ph.D. in Food Science and Nutrition in December 2020 and her M.S. in Food Science and Technology in 2016 from Illinois Tech. She also received her B.S. in Genomics and Molecular Genetics with additional majors in microbiology and human biology from Michigan State University in 2012.

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