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USDA Awards Food Safety Research Grants

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photography-money-image279317Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced the recipients of its latest round of food safety research grants.

The nearly $19 million awarded to 36 institutions through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, which is authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill, will help in understanding antimicrobial resistance, the development of processing technology, identifying and targeting food safety needs, improving food safety, and improving food quality.

Enhancing Food Safety through Improved Processing Technologies

There were five grants awarded for technology development. One for the University of California will aid work in the design of produce washers, evaluating sanitizers, and engineering self-regenerating antimicrobial coatings to reduce risk of cross-contamination. Michigan State University will use another of the grants to develop and improve pasteurization technologies for low-moisture foods.

Effective Mitigation Strategies for Antimicrobial Resistance

With three of the seven grants for antimicrobial resistance research, Colorado State University will study the relationship between antibiotic use in agriculture and the development of resistance, the University of Minnesota will work on determining the best practices for reducing resistance in Salmonella and E. coli in hatchery and broiler farms, and Texas A&M University will organize the 4th American Society for Microbiology Conference on Antimicrobial Resistance in Zoonotic Bacteria and Foodborne Pathogens.

Identifying and Targeting Food Safety Needs

Illinois Institute of Technology was awarded $50,000 for a conference on the current status and issues associated with the management of food allergens and best practices in managing allergen risks at various stages of the food chain.

Improving Food Safety

There were 12 recipients in the sub-program on improving food safety. They included Emory University’s proposal to evaluate whether Norovirus and Hepatitis A contaminates fresh produce in harvest and post-harvest environments, the University of Massachusetts’ for studying interactions between silver nanoparticles and leafy vegetables, the University of Minnesota’s for developing a way of controlling Salmonella enterica in pigs by vaccinating them against Lawsonia intracellularis, and Cornell University’s for investigating how water films and droplets affect the ability of pathogens to attach to fresh produce and explore what could be done to make the pathogens easier to wash off.

Improving Food Quality

With three of the 11 grants dedicated to improving food quality, the University of Idaho will study the interaction between saliva with food components and how it affects perceived food texture, the University of Maryland will study whether low-dose irradiation of shell eggs can improve egg white-processing efficiency, and West Virginia University will work or creating protein powder from underutilized resources by extracting the water-soluble proteins from fish-processing byproducts.

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