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Animal Sciences and Industry

Phebus, Randall K.

Phebus, Randall K. Professor
223 Call Hall
Manhattan KS 66506
785-532-5681 fax

Area(s) of Specialization

Food Microbiology
Food Safety
Food and Agricultural Security
Food/Meat Processing
Environmental Control & Hygiene



B.S. , University of Tennessee, 1986
M.S. , University of Tennessee, 1988
Ph.D. , University of Tennessee, 1992

Bio Brief

Students (3)>Dr P teaching dairy students.JPG

Dr. Randy Phebus was born and raised in Waverly, Tennessee, a small town 70 miles west of Nashville. He attended the University of Tennessee in Knoxville from 1981-1992, earning B.S. (Animal Science), M.S. and Ph.D. degrees (Food Science). Dr. Phebus joined the K-State ASI department in 1992 and has a 30% teaching and 70% research appointment within the Food Science discipline group. He teaches both undergraduate and graduate level courses in Food Science and is very active in the distance learning Food Science program and student recruitment. He specializes in food microbiology, food safety, food biosecurity and defense, and public health.

Dr. Phebus also coordinates an active applied food safety research program. He is a member of the K-State Food Science Institute and the National Agricultural Biosecurity Center. Dr. Phebus holds graduate faculty status in Food Science, Animal Sciences and Pathobiology. He works closely with food processors, regulators, and technology providers across the country to improve food quality and safety through laboratory-based and processing-based research and troubleshooting activities. Recently, he was appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to the National Committee on Meat and Poultry Inspection. 

Personally, Dr. Phebus is a rabid Tennessee Volunteer (beat Florida!) and K-State Wildcat (beat KU!) fan. He lives west of campus near Keats, KS, with his wife Cindy and two children (Anteelah and Cole, both K-State food science majors). All of Dr. Phebus's spare time is spent scouting for great Kansas hunting spots and riding his motorcycle around the Kansas Flint Hills.


Students (3)>pilot plant project.JPG

Primary Research Areas:

  • Validation of dry extruded pet food processes for control of Salmonella.
  • Development of antimicrobial intervention strategies to reduce microbial populations on meat carcasses, fresh beef products, and processed meats.
  • Process validation of dry and/or fermented meat products to assure pathogen lethality.
  • Control of microorganisms in food processing environments to promote public health.
  • Development and validation of post-process pasteurization methods and secondary microbial barriers for control of Listeria monocytogenes and Clostridium spp. in ready-to-eat processed meat products.
  • Risk assessments to establish the safety of non-intact meat products manufactured using mechanical tenderization, pumping, and restructuring technologies.
  • Development and validation of chemical cleaning and disinfection protocols for cattle and carcasses to minimize the spread of meatborne pathogens during carcass conversion.
  • Establishment of standardized microbiological sampling and testing protocols for industrial use.
  • Development of cultural and DNA-based methods for detection of E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella and other foodborne pathogens from animals, the environment, and food products.
  • Development of rapid microbial detection and identification techniques for use in food and environmental monitoring.
  • Validation of various chemical sanitizers and disinfectants against foodborne microorganisms and public health pathogens important to national security; facilitation of commercial use of these decontamination products and systems.

Students (3)>Biosecurity Research Insititute.jpg


The science of food has immediate impact on the daily life of each human on this planet. We must have nutritious and adequate food, along with pure water, to survive. Sounds pretty basic doesn't it? However, not many in the world understand the level of science and technology that is required to feed the world, nor do they realize the intricacies involved in marketing, distributing, and consuming food products. Domestic and international laws and trade policies often dictate available food choices, quality and safety, cost, and availability. Food science is an interdisciplinary and highly dynamic area of study, and students majoring in this field can expect to be employed in one of the most robust and competitive industries in the world. I teach FDSCI 302 Introduction to Food Science on campus and by distance and try to weave a broad perspective as to the role of science in the production processing and consumption of all food products.

  • Introduction to Food Science [FDSCI 302]