Carl Custer


Carl Custer is a Food Microbiologist with decades of practical experience. This experience includes the microbiological safety of processed ready-to-eat cooked, dried, fermented, ethnic and traditional meat and poultry products.
Carl was employed in USDA FSIS from 1992 to 2007. Those 34 years gave him an in-depth knowledge of regulations, regulatory policy, plus the science and history behind those policies. His last position was as a Multidisciplinary Microbiologist in the Microbiology Division of USDA FSIS Office of Public Health Science. In the last decade in that position, he continued to develop the scientific basis for regulatory policy, particularly for dried, fermented, ethnic, and traditional products. He also served as a problem solver for processing and slaughter plants that had HACCP failures for Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella, and Escherichia coli O157:H7.
Carl also served as a trainer. He wrote chapters for the AFDO retail processing course and participated in their pilot and regular workshops. He also aided Maryland State in training country ham processors and farm processors in safe procedures. Additionally, Carl was a primary trainer for FSIS’ classes for sampling plant environments for L. monocytogenes. In 2007, Carl retired from federal service. He is currently participating in training State and local inspectors with NEHA.
After retiring in 2007, Custer has worked with consulting firms solving problems in food processing plants including contamination by Listeria spp., Salmonella, and foreign materials. He has also been an expert witness for legal firms on spoilage factors, Escherichia coli O157:H7, Listeria monocytogenes, PFGE interpretation, and good manufacturing practices in the food industry.
Carl Custer is a Lifetime Member of IAFP, a member of ASM since 1972, and an active member of the Capitol Area Food Protection Association. He was also a member of the Food Microbiology Research Conference Executive Committee until it disbanded in 2005. Carl holds a MS degree in Food Science and a BS in Microbiology from Texas A&M University.
Custer has also continued to promote food safety by participating in the International Food Protection Association, developing symposia, roundtables and giving presentations. He has also blogged on Food Safety News on food safety issues. His recent article is:”Vinegar can help home cooks battle bacteria on leafy greens” April 16, 2018
Custer’s volunteering experience includes AAAS’ STEM Program in Montgomery County Schools.
Custer was also a member of Toastmasters International from 1973 to 1982. He was president of ARC 3039 and the Educational Vice President of the local District.