The U.S. Food and Drug Administration awarded $18.5 million in grants for 84 projects aimed at improving food safety monitoring, food defense, and rapid response at the local and state level.

“We are excited to award these grants in an effort to provide greater food and feed safety and defense capabilities to better serve the citizens of the United States,” said Joseph Reardon, director of the FDA’s Division of Federal-State Relations.  “These cooperative agreements are another step in the FDA’s continuing efforts to build an integrated food safety system between federal, state, and local partners.”

According to FDA, the grants fund projects in four major areas: response, intervention, innovation, and prevention.

Nine states received $500,000 each in 2010 funding for the creation of Food Protection Rapid Response Team and Program Infrastructure Improvement Prototype Project to help local governments react to potential threats to the food supply.

Over a dozen states received $400,000 grants for Food Emergency Response Network (FERN) laboratories, which provide capacity for analyzing samples during foodborne illness outbreak investigations.    FDA awarded grants to expand microbiological, chemical, and radiological analysis capacity.

Oklahoma and Riverside County, CA were awarded grants to boost local food defense programs or products, which could be applied to food defense nationwide. One of the funded projects includes two training initiatives.

Ten states received $10,000 grants for the Food Protection Task Force Conference program, which fosters increased communication collaboration between state and local public health, food, and agriculture authorities.  According to FDA, 17 states including the District of Columbia are already involved in the program utilizing existing grants.

Twelve states were awarded $250,000 for the Ruminant Feed Ban/Feed Safety Support Program to enhance animal feed safety infrastructure mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) prevention programs.  Funds are to be used to find and monitor companies that manufacture, distribute, and transport animal feed or whose operations involve feeding ruminant animals.

For more information in the grants see FDA’s Food Defense & Emergency Response website