Food, Nutrition, & Health Overview
America is committing
increased dollars and resources to remedy the negative
effects of poor dietary choices and unhealthy lifestyles,
foodborne illnesses, and the potential for terrorist-related
and other threats to the food supply. At the same time,
millions of Americans struggle to obtain sufficient food,
while U.S. food suppliers scramble to keep up with changing
food trends. Through program leadership and funding opportunities,
NIFA's Food, Nutrition & Health
programs strengthen the nation's capacity to address issues
related to diet, health, food safety, food security, and
food science and technology.
While the American food supply is among the
safest in the world, millions of Americans still fall victim
to foodborne illness. Each year, foodborne diseases cause
an estimated 325,000 serious illnesses resulting in hospitalization,
76 million cases of gastrointestinal illnesses, and 5,000
deaths. The nation faces new food safety challenges because
of new and emerging foodborne pathogens and because familiar
ones are growing resistant to treatment.
The goal of food
safety programs in NIFA is to reduce the incidence of
foodborne illness to the greatest extent feasible. NIFA’ food safety programs increase
the understanding of disease-causing microorganisms, their
products, naturally occurring toxicants and chemical contaminants
in meats, poultry, seafood, and fresh fruits and vegetables.
Food safety concerns cover a broad spectrum, from on-farm
production, postharvest processing, distribution, and food
preparation, selection and consumption. Programs increase
the understanding of the ecology of foodborne pathogens and
their products so better intervention strategies can be developed.
NIFA’ food safety programs also encourage public
and private sectors to work collaboratively to identify and
implement preventive measures that reduce the risk of foodborne
illness while making the best use of public and private resources.
And finally, the food safety program focuses on addressing
the safety of a national food supply that is threatened by
both incidental and deliberate contamination.
sector of the food industry—processing,
packaging, marketing, and distribution—accounts for
about three-fourths of the consumer’s food dollar.
NIFA supports research and education in talue-added food
processing and quality improvement through formula grants,
competitive grants, and special research grants. These include:
thermal processing, irradiation, hydrostatic processing,
ohmic processing, reverse osmosis and ultrafiltration, bioproces
02/20/2008drying, and refrigeration.
Maintenance and improvement of quality of the nutrients,
flavor, texture, and phytochemicals/nutraceuticals are integral
parts of these processes. Processing methods to improve the
physical, chemical, and microbiological safety of food are
an important component of the research supported.