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NEWS RELEASE

USDA Announces $5 Million to Improve Food Safety

Contact:
Ed Loyd (202) 720-4632
James Spurling (202) 720-8187

WASHINGTON, March 7, 2005 – CSREES Administrator Dr. Colien Hefferan announced today that $5 million has been awarded to 17 institutions to establish a new Food Safety Research and Response Network. This network, spearheaded by North Carolina State University, will include a team of more than 50 food safety experts from 18 colleges and universities who will investigate several of the most prevalent food-related illness pathogens. The group also will serve as a response team that can be mobilized to conduct focused research to control major episodes of food-related illnesses. Episodes could include investigation of health problems associated with agricultural bioterrorism and the deliberate contamination of agricultural commodities.

"Food poisoning is the second most common household illness in the United States with an estimated 76 million food-related illnesses occurring each year,” Hefferan said. “This project will help improve food safety for years to come by bringing together the nation’s leading experts in pre-harvest food safety," said Hefferan.

"Pathogens like E.coli, Salmonella and Campylobactor will be studied to determine where they are found in the environment, how are they sustained and how they infect herds,” said Hefferan. “With this team approach researchers with a broad range of expertise are working together to tackle persistent and challenging problems.”

Funding for the award was provided by USDA’s Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES).

The 17 other institutions in the project are: Cornell University, Iowa State University, McMasters University, Mississippi State University, North Dakota State University, The Ohio State University, Tuskegee University, University of Arizona, University of California at Davis, University of California at Berkeley, University of Florida, University of Illinois, University of Kentucky, University of Minnesota, University of Montreal, Washington State University, and West Texas A&M University.

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