The Food Safety Research and Response 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. Pathogens like E.coli, Salmonella and Campylobactor will be studied to determine where they are found in the environment, how they are sustained and how they infect herds.
This team of researchers brings a broad range of expertise to tackle these persistent research challenges.
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. USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) provided funding for the award.
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.
Johanns made the announcement during keynote remarks at the National Restaurant Association's and National Food Processors Association Food Safety Summit.
"In a rapidly changing world marketplace, science is the universal language that must guide our rules and policies, rather than subjectivity or politics," said Johanns. "Expanding our research efforts to improve the understanding of BSE and other food-related illness pathogens will strengthen the security of our nation's food supply. These projects will help improve food safety by enhancing our research partnerships with the academic community and establish another tool to aid our response to food-related disease outbreaks."