FDA awards $18.5 million in grants for food and feed safety

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration awarded 84 grants worth $18.5 million in fiscal year 2010 to help state and local regulatory agencies defend against and respond quickly to threats to the food supply and to outbreaks of foodborne diseases.

The grants fund major cooperative agreements in four major areas: response, intervention, innovation, and prevention.

“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.”

The grants, recipients, and programs include:

Response: Rapid Response Teams

The Food Protection Rapid Response Team (RRT) and Program Infrastructure Improvement Prototype Project cooperative agreements will develop, implement, exercise, and integrate an all-hazards food and foodborne illness response capability to more rapidly react to potential threats to our food supply.

The RRT, designed to operate in conjunction with other food and feed agencies within state programs, other state RRTs,
FDA district offices, and state emergency operations centers, is another tool to enhance response capabilities.

An RRT responds to food hazard incidents through the entire production and delivery process, from farm to table, using a formal crisis management system. Each recipient received up to $500,000 to exercise its response team, conduct a program assessment, purchase additional equipment and supplies, fund personnel, and train and share information and data as appropriate.

The following states were funded in the 2010 fiscal year: Virginia, Texas, Minnesota, North Carolina, California, Florida, Michigan, Massachusetts, and Washington.

Intervention: Food Safety and Security Monitoring

The grants for Food Safety and Security Monitoring provide funding to Food Emergency Response Network (FERN) laboratories. FERN laboratories provide additional capacity for analyzing food samples in the event of foodborne disease outbreaks or other large scale food emergency events. These samples could be foods and/or environmental samples related to foods, and will be collected by federal, state, or local agencies.

Determinations regarding the numbers of samples and the scheduling of samples will be made by the FERN National Program Office in coordination with state/local laboratory authorities. Federal or state surveillance assignments will also be a source of samples for lab analysis. Selected laboratories received up to $400,000 in grant funds. The grants are for microbiological, chemical, or radiological analysis capacity.  The grants were made to:

• Microbiology Program

Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia and Washington.

• Chemistry Program

Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Virginia, Ohio, Colorado, Arkansas, Nebraska, and Wisconsin.

• Radiological Program

Maryland, New York, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin.


Innovation: Innovative Food Defense

The Innovative Food Defense Projects grants are awarded to generate products that complement, develop, or improve state and local food defense programs. These products could then be applied to food defense programs nationwide. One example is the food defense program in food establishments, which includes two training initiatives, Assure, Look, Employees, Reports, and Threat (ALERT); and, Employees Follow, Inspect, Recognize, Secure, and Tell (FIRST). Recipients were awarded up to $100,000.  Oklahoma and Riverside County, Calif., were awarded grants. 

Prevention: Food Protection Task Force Program

The Food Protection Task Force Conference program supports meetings that foster communication, cooperation, and collaboration among state, local, and tribal food protection, public health, agriculture, and regulatory agencies within a respective state. The meetings are designed to:

• Provide a forum for all the stakeholders of the food protection system, regulatory agencies, academia, industry, consumers, state legislators, boards of health and agriculture, and other interested parties;

• Promote the integration of an efficient statewide food protection/defense system that maximizes the protection of the public health through prevention, intervention and response; and

• Detect and contain foodborne illness early. 

Washington, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Alabama, New Mexico, North Carolina, Indiana, Tennessee, and Nevada were selected to receive awards up to $10,000. These states join 17 other states including the District of Columbia with existing grants.

BSE/Feed Safety Program Grant

The cooperative agreements for the Ruminant Feed Ban/Feed Safety Support Program, supported by the FDA’s Office of Regulatory Affairs, Division of Federal-State Relations and its Center for Veterinary Medicine, enhance state, territorial, and tribal animal feed safety infrastructure and mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) prevention programs. Under these agreements, state, territorial, and tribal governments increase their ability to find and monitor companies that manufacture, distribution, and transport animal feed or whose operations involve feeding ruminant animals.  Funds may also be used for laboratory analysis,  and educational outreach to increase industry compliance with the ruminant feed ban and other regulations.

Twelve states were awarded up to $250,000: Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Texas, and Washington. 

Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration


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