Akier Assanta Maf, Ph.D.

Image Akier Assanta Maf
Research Scientist

Dr. Maf is a research scientist in food hygiene, safety and biosecurity at the Saint-Hyacinthe Research and Development Centre. He has multi-disciplinary expertise that includes veterinary medicine, pathology, microbiology, and water sanitation. His expertise builds on the adhesion of pathogenic microorganisms to surfaces in contact with food and their resistance to natural and chemical antimicrobials in the bio-industrial sector. Through his projects, Dr. Maf also carries out work on: (1) the safety of red- and white-meat products; (2) validation of the hygiene of inert surfaces through molecular techniques; (3) the physical chemistry of interfaces in the formation of biofilms and the sanitation of poultry cages at slaughterhouses; and (4) the biosecurity of alternative foods based on edible insects.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec

Current research and/or projects

Dr. Maf’s research aims to support the Canadian food industry by strengthening the sector’s competitiveness through the implementation of risk-mitigation strategies in food production and processing. In addition, Dr. Maf focuses his research on the control of risks and threats, dangers which can be obstacles to ensuring the promotion of alternative foods based on edible insects in complex food systems.

Research and/or project statements

Dr. Maf’s team is convinced of the importance of cleaning and disinfection of equipment surfaces for food safety and biosecurity. As such, they have developed and applied a unique, structured and integrated approach to hygiene for equipment in contact with food to ensure better control of contamination of surfaces colonized by pathogens. Thus, Dr. Maf’s work addresses the equipment-bacteria-residue-cleaning-disinfection relationship from the perspective of cross-contamination to elucidate the problem of surface sanitation in the food industry. In the bio-industrial sector, the persistence of microbial agents and their biofilms on inert surfaces encourages companies and monitoring agencies to work together to strengthen the standard on Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP), the measurement standard in food safety. For several years, in collaboration with industry, this researcher has worked at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s (AAFC) St-Hyacinthe Research and Development Centre (SHRDC) on the contamination of surfaces by pathogens in both agri-food and hospital environments. The researcher’s current projects to this end can be summarized as follows:

  • Improvement of the cleaning and sanitation system for transport crates bringing poultry to slaughterhouses to ensure risk management and reduction of threats associated with the consumption of chicken meat contaminated with pathogenic microorganisms;
  • Potential of insects as a source of healthy ingredients and a production sanitation process;
  • Promotion of protein from edible insects through the production of sausages that are safe for human consumption;
  • Use of SpectrAAC-2 as a tool for obtaining the optical fluorescence fingerprint of protein from edible insects.

Professional activities / interests

  • Associate professor in the Department of Food and Nutrition Sciences at Université Laval;
  • Member of the Board of Directors of Université Nouveaux Horizons (UNH), Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo;
  • Founding member of Fondation INITIA, Saint-Hyacinthe Research and Development Centre, QC;
  • Chairman of the International Symposium on Food Safety and Processing in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Education and awards

  • Recognition award for the work atmosphere at the Food Research and Development Centre (2002);
  • Honorary Citizen of West France Award, best presentation (1991);
  • Recognition Award as part of the 125th anniversary of the Government of Canada’s Research Branch, for great international recognition in the field of food hygiene, safety and biosecurity, Canada (2012);
  • United Nations Laureate of a scientific excellence support grant sponsored by the following organizations: The International Council for Science, The Academy of Sciences for the Developing World, The United Nations for Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization and The United Nations University Institute for Advanced Studies (2006 to 2009);
  • Science Prize, scientific winner of the year, Organisation des professionnels congolais au Canada (OPCC) (2015);
  • Post-doctoral internship in food hygiene, safety and biosecurity, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) (1993);
  • Grant from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) (1984–1987);
  • Tuition exemption scholarship from the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies of Université Laval (1987–1992);
  • Grant from the Governor’s Foundation, Food Research and Development Centre (1997–2001).

International experience and/or work

Regional veterinarian, animal health, Ministry of Agriculture, City of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Key publications

  1. Bellon-Fontaine, M.-N. and Mafu, A.A. (2008). "Les biofilms dans les industries agroalimentaires.", Conférences et salon: Pathogènes alimentaires, salubrité et hygiène, INITIA, Saint-Hyacinthe, QC, Canada, December 10-11, 2008. (Abstract)

    2008 - View publication details

  2. Zouaoui, H., Lafleur, S., Rabanel, J.-M., Beaudry, F., Van Le Thanh, B., Scholl, D.T., Mafu, A.A., Hildgen, P., and del Castillo, J.R.E. (2007). "Intérêt des polymères à empreintes moléculaires pour le dépistage des résidus médicamenteux dans les denrées d’origine animale.", 1er Symposium Annuel du Centre de Recherche en Infectiologie Porcine (CRIP), Université de Montréal, Faculté de Médecine Vétérinaire, Saint-Hyacinthe, QC, Canada, May 28-29, 2007, pp. 18. (Poster)

    2007 - View publication details

  3. Mafu, A.A., Nourian, F., and Lemay, M.-J. (2007). "Biofilm formation by Escherichia coli O157:H7 on inert surfaces: influence of environmental conditions.", 11th Annual Federal Food Safety and Nutrition Research Meeting (FFSNRM), Delta Winnipeg Hotel, Winnipeg, MB, Canada, October 17-19, 2007.

    2007 - View publication details

  4. Mafu, A.A., Nourian, F., and Lemay, M.-J. (2007). "Detection of biofilm formation by Listeria monocytogenes on glass and polypropylene surfaces using viable count, Real-Time PCR and of SEM methods.", Joint EFFOST/EHEDG Conference - Food: New Options for the Industry, Lisbon, Portugal, November 14-16, 2007.

    2007 - View publication details

  5. Bellon-Fontaine, M.-N. and Mafu, A.A. (2007). "Adhésion des microorganismes aux surfaces et formation de biofilms : Impact sur l’hygiène des matériaux dans l’industrie agroalimentaire.", 1er Symposium international sur la transformation et la salubrité des aliments en République Démocratique du Congo, SYMPOKIN 2007, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, June 3-6, 2007. (Abstract)

    2007 - View publication details

  6. Bouchard, A.J., Frechette, J., Vernon, M., Cormier, J.F., Beaulieu, R., Vallee, R., and Mafu, A.A. (2006). "Optical characterization of Pseudomonas fluorescens on meat surfaces using time-resolved fluorescence.", Journal of Biomedical Optics (JBO), 11, pp. 14011.

    2006 - View publication details

  7. Lagacé, L.Jacques, M.Mafu, A.A., and Roy, D. (2006). "Biofilm Formation and Biocides Sensitivity of Pseudomonas marginalis Isolated from a Maple Sap Collection System.", Journal of Food Protection, 69(10), pp. 2411-2416.

    2006 - View publication details

  8. Lagacé, L., Jacques, M., Mafu, A.A., and Roy, D. (2006). "Compositions of maple sap microflora and collection system biofilms evaluated by scanning electron microscopy and denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis.", International Journal of Food Microbiology, 109(1-2), pp. 9-18.

    2006 - View publication details

  9. Mafu, A.A. (2005). "Santé animale B Hygiène et salubrité des aliments. Module 6: Conditions générales d’hygiène et de salubrité.", - Production et biosécurité agroalimentaire, Consortium Universitaire en agroalimentaire, Canada.

    2005 - View publication details

  10. Mafu, A.A. (2005). Cours de Toxi-infection Alimentaire. Vol. II., Institut supérieur des techniques appliquées en chimie agroalimentaire (ISTACHA), République Démocratique du Congo. (Book)

    2005 - View publication details

  11. Mafu, A.A. (2005). "Santé animale B Hygiène et salubrité des aliments. Module 5. Conditions générales des lieux.", - Production et biosécurité agroalimentaire, Consortium Universitaire en agroalimentaire, Canada.

    2005 - View publication details

  12. St-Onge, M.-P., Farnworth, E.R., Savard, T., Chabot, D., Mafu, A.A., and Jones, P.J.H. (2002). "Kefir consumption does not alter plasma lipid levels or cholesterol fractional synthesis rates relative to milk in hyperlipidemic men: a randomized controlled trial [ISRCTN10820810].", BMC Complimentary and Alternative Medicine Journal, 2:1.

    2002 - View publication details

  13. Mafu, A.A., Roy, D., Lemay, M.-J., and Montpetit, D. (2002). "Evidence for Escherichia coli O157:H7 attachment to water distribution pipe materials by scanning electron microscopy.", Journal of Food Protection, 65(12), pp. 1970-1975.

    2002 - View publication details

  14. Mafu, A.A., Roy, D., Lemay, M.-J., and Montpetit, D. (2002). "Attachment of Arcobacter butzleri, a new waterborne pathogen, to water distribution pipe surfaces.", Journal of Food Protection, 65(8), pp. 1240-1247.

    2002 - View publication details

Research facility

3600 Casavant Boulevard West
Saint-Hyacinthe, QC J2S 8E3
Canada

Affiliations

  • Associate professor in the Department of Food and Nutrition Sciences at Université Laval;
  • Member of the Board of Directors of Université Nouveaux Horizons (UNH), Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo;
  • Founding member of Fondation INITIA, Saint-Hyacinthe Research and Development Centre, QC;
  • Chairman of the International Symposium on Food Safety and Processing in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Language

English
French