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Veneman Announces $14.2 Million in Grants to Expand Food Safety Research and Education

Alisa Harrison (202) 720-4623
Terry Meisenbach (202) 720-2677

WASHINGTON, Sept. 27, 2002-Agriculture Secretary Ann M.Veneman today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded $14.2 million in competitive grants for 40 integrated food safety research, education and extension projects.

"These competitive grants will support cutting-edge food safety research, consumer education and nationwide surveillance efforts," said Veneman. "Food safety is a top priority for the Bush Administration. These grants help strengthen research knowledge and capabilities for food safety programs."

"The breadth of these food safety grants is impressive -- from searching for new control methods for microbiological contaminants in food to developing innovative education programs for food handlers," said Dr. Elsa Murano, undersecretary for food safety. "The information we gain will provide critical information to continue our public health improvements to USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Program."

The grants were awarded through the National Integrated Food Safety Initiative, a program administered by USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (CSREES). The Initiative supports grant projects developed by multi-state, multi-institutional and multi-disciplinary food safety teams at colleges and universities throughout the U.S. The projects focus on applied food safety research, education in the classroom and extension and outreach to youth and adults beyond the classroom.

"CSREES links the research and education resources and activities of USDA to respond to emerging issues and national priorities such as food safety," said Dr. Joseph Jen, undersecretary for research, education and economics.

The food safety grants were awarded for the following projects:

University of Alaska--$60,805 to develop a public education program that provides guidelines for safe non-commercial processing of salmon in airtight sealed metal cans.

Alabama A&M University--$100,000 to plan and implement a comprehensive, interactive food safety education program for small fruit and vegetable growers to help reduce the potential for foodborne illness in hard-to-reach and underserved rural communities in Alabama and Tennessee.

University of Arizona--$580,608 to determine the prevalence of the bacteria named Campylobacter jejuni in broiler chickens and to train processors to identify those broiler chickens that may have the bacteria risk factors for campylobacteriosis. This bacteria is a source of foodborne illness in humans.

University of California--$194,305 to assess the prevalence of harmful bacteria in those chickens that already have suppressed immune systems; $370,820 to evaluate the efficacy of using sanitizers and disinfectants to kill harmful bacteria in melons and other produce; $418,391 to develop, modify and assess the effectiveness of music-based food safety education curricula and media. University of California, Davis--$572,264 to assess risk factors that lead to Salmonella enteritidis in al07/25/2007ans.

University of Connecticut--$250,335 to develop a food safety model for home prepared chicken and salad in a Puerto Rican community.

University of Florida--$422,874 to assess the use of carbon monoxide and filtered smoke on the safety and quality of seafood products.

University of Georgia--$568,370 to assess potential vulnerabilities or weaknesses of Good Agricultural Practices and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) plans used by the fresh produce industry. University's National Center for Home Food Processing and Preservation--$538,812 to help provide consumers and industry with current, reliable and scientifically-validated guidelines on home canning, freezing and drying of foods.

Illinois Institute of Technology--$434,153 to develop control measures for Listeria monocytogenes, a very harmful bacteria, in processed, ready-to-eat foods using thermal, high pressure, irradiation treatments. Listeria is especially dangerous in pregnant women, children, the elderly and those with suppressed immune systems.

Iowa State University--$530,608 to study the effect of dietary and irradiation interventions on reducing pathogens in turkey meat; $530,113 to assess food safety practices and HACCP implementation in assisted living programs for the elderly.

Kansas State University--$534,153 to develop and implement a voluntary HACCP program for the commercial feed industry; $434,153 to assess food handling practices and develop a food safety education program for high-risk older adults.

Louisiana State University--$444,642 to evaluate the food handling practices of volunteers in food recovery organizations using temperature audits and HACCP-based analyses.

The University of Massachusetts--$530,608 to promote and evaluate a food safety education program for teachers, youth and families using online courses and classroom curricula.

Michigan State University--$580,610 to develop methods to control microbes in dairy cattle from becoming resistant to the antibiotics that kill foodborne pathogens; $50,000 to hold an international videoconference on topics relating to quality, safety, distribution, economic development, risk assessment, social issues and future direction of organically-produced foods.

Mississippi State University--$280,072 to develop a bilingual (Spanish/English) food safety certification program for childcare facilities.

Lincoln University--$173,599 to implement a food safety initiative for Missouri's limited resource families.

Northern Marianas College--$100,000 to develop culturally appropriate food safety teaching materials for its train-the-trainer programs for food processors, inspectors and handlers.

University of Nebraska --$185,746 to develop a more cost-effective test for detecting antibiotic-resistant bacteria; $38,150 to hold the second Governor's Conference on Ensuring Meat Safety; and $495,640 to develop mathematical models that predict the survival and growth of certain harmful bacteria in meat and poultry products during heating and cooling. Food handlers and processors would benefit from the data. The Governor's conference will bring together experts in both academia and industry who will share their expertise in food safety to ensure meat safety.

New Mexico State University--$234,153 to assess barriers to implementation of Good Agricultural Practices and Good Manufacturing Practices and develop innovative food safety programs that teach farm assessment and intervention techniques to minority farmers.

Cornell University--$392,178 to develop mathematical models that estimate when milk and meat are most vulnerable to contamination by Listeria monocytogenes, a bacteria that causes severe food poisoning in humans. Estimating at what point milk and meat become infected will help producers decide when best to intervene to reduce the risk of contamination.

North Carolina State University--$284,619 to develop a dynamic food safety education and evaluation strategy for the retail food industry; $520, 715 to investigate the source, diversity and resistance of two harmful bacteria (Salmonella campylobacter and Yersinia) in two sets of swine: one that has received antibiotics and one that is free of antibiotics. The investigation will help predict which group of swine will be more resistant to the pathogens and less expensive to own.

North Dakota State University--$233,915 for research on reducing the risk of foodborne illness outbreaks among high-risk audiences through existing public education programs.

Ohio State University--$50,000 to conduct two national workshops that will update information on non-thermal food processing technologies.

Oregon State University--$327,458 to determine the frequency of microbial contamination of berries, evaluate the effectiveness of pathogen disinfection methods in berries, develop a berry food safety course for undergraduate students and implement training programs for the berry industry.

Pennsylvania State University--$327,066 to investigate the extent of infection/contamination of Salmonella Newport, a newer microorganism, on farms and its effect on cattle. This data would lead to prevention/treatment programs.

Clemson University--$573,029 to identify unsafe food safety behaviors and develop educational programs addressing those behaviors for non- English speaking groups and hard to reach audiences.

Texas A&M University--$213,185 to help researchers understand, simulate and predict the effects and distribution of irradiated food. This data could be used to help develop guidelines for general use; $436,139 to identify optimum approaches for managing and regulating antimicrobial use while developing and delivering a curricula and educational materials on antimicrobial resistance for use by veterinarians and cattle producers.

Utah State University--$384,153 for instructional computer simulation modules to teach students about the science concepts behind the USDA's Fight Bac! public education program, while encouraging them to adopt recommended food safety behaviors.

Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University--$420,133 to study the effects of pressurized water (hydrostatic pressure) on enzymes in fish that produce a certain toxin that, when consumed, is harmful to humans; $384,153 to develop alternatives to pasteurization through technologies that use chemical preservatives as alternative means of assuring the safety of fresh apple cider and orange juice.