USDA Awards Grants to Increase Food Safety

USDA grants will help reduce death from foodborne illness

(RxWiki News) There is always a risk of foodborne illness, but with increased summer cookouts, the rate can be higher than other times of year. Food left out in the sun can spoil and meats not cooked thoroughly can be problematic.

Hoping to reduce the incidence of foodborne illness, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture has awarded two dozen research and education grants.

"Cook meat thoroughly to avoid foodborne illness."

Catherine Woteki, USDA Chief Scientist and Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics, said the grants  support additional understanding of the sources and implications of microbial contamination, and will promote the adoption of new food safety strategies and technologies.

She said the goal to to improve food safety and save lives. The U.S. food supply is considered one of the safest in the world, but 48 million Americans still become sick with foodborne illness each year.

Specific grants include one to the University of Florida in Florida for $499,531 to identify the specific Salmonella genes that allow it to attach to and persist on tomatoes and a grant to the University of Georgia for $5 million to evaluate the effectiveness and feasibility of integrating six different food safety technologies into slaughter establishments and meat processing facilities as multiple hurdles to inactivate Shiga-toxigenic E. coli and noroviruses on beef.

The University of Iowa also received a $5 million grant to examine the factors contributing to the appearance of staph bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus) on raw meat and study the relationship between meat contamination and human staph infections.

All of the grants awarded are designed to promote and enhance the scientific discipline of food safety, with an overall aim of protecting consumers from microbial, chemical, and physical hazards that may occur during all stages of the food chain, from production to consumption.

Review Date: 
June 26, 2011