Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced Wednesday that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded 17 grants in 13 states to improve the safety of the food supply through research, education and extension.

USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) awarded the grants, totaling $10.4 million, to universities to help address a broad spectrum of food safety issues. Merrigan made the announcement at Michigan State University, which was awarded three grants under the program.

“With millions of Americans contracting food-borne illnesses each year, USDA is committed to supporting research that improves the safety of our nation’s food supply,” said Merrigan. “Primarily, we expect that the research and education spurred by these grants will find solutions to some pressing food safety issues. Additionally, we want to help American consumers, restaurant employees, and teachers put new food safety principles into practice. Ensuring the safety of food is a top priority for USDA, and we will continue to work with our public and private sector partners on developing solutions to decrease potential risks.”

NIFA made the awards through the National Integrated Food Safety Initiative (NIFSI), which addresses a broad spectrum of food safety concerns, from on-farm production, post-harvest processing and distribution, to food selection, preparation and consumption. Focused on integrated approaches to food safety, NIFSI projects combine research at colleges and universities, education in the classroom, and outreach to a variety of groups, including consumers, foodservice workers, teachers, federal agencies, and farmers.

In fiscal year 2011, NIFA awarded the following food safety grants:

– Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, Ala., $100,000
– University of Arizona, Tucson, Ariz., $542,969
– Fort Valley State University, Fort Valley, Ga., $100,000
– University of Georgia, Athens, Ga., $535,725
– University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Mass., $424,878
– Michigan State University, East Lansing, Mich., $542,824
– Michigan State University, East Lansing, Mich., $543,000
– Michigan State University, East Lansing, Mich., $1,809,934
– North Carolina State University, Raleigh., N.C., $541,621
– Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, $1,864,665
– Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Okla., $543,000
– Pennsylvania State University, State College, Pa., $542,607
– Clemson University, Clemson, S.C., $542,999
– Tennessee State University, Nashville, Tenn., $100,000
– University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tenn., $542,977
– Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas, $540,326
– University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wis., $541,313

MSU was awarded grants for developing standardized food safety education

and training materials, researching microbial food safety of

ready-to-eat products, and looking at process validation tools for

low-moisture foods using innovative technologies.

Texas Tech University researchers received a grant to study Salmonella

harborage in the lymph nodes of cattle in order to develop practical

solutions for controlling Salmonella in beef cattle. Ohio State

University will use its funds to conduct research on the impact wildlife has on transmission of microbial resistant organisms to food

producing animals.

A full list of awardees and their projects can be found online at: