Public Release: 

NIFA funds food safety and nutrition to promote safe food supply

National Institute of Food and Agriculture

WASHINGTON, Nov. 29, 2017- The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced support for research, education, and extension projects that promote a safe, nutritious food supply. The funding is made possible through NIFA's Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) program, authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.

"Each year, 1 in 6 Americans gets sick consuming contaminated foods or beverages," said NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy. "NIFA support enables scientists to investigate and develop innovative approaches to detect and control microbial and other contaminants in our food, contributing to the production of safe, high-quality, nourishing food."

AFRI is America's flagship competitive grants program for foundational and translational research, education, and extension projects in the food and agricultural sciences. These awards are made through two grant programs: AFRI Foundational: Food Safety, Nutrition, and Health, and the AFRI Food Safety Challenge Area. These investments seek to increase our understanding of the microbial, chemical, and physical safety and quality of foods, as well as protect consumers from contaminants at every stage of the food chain, from production to consumption.

Among the FY16 foundational projects, NIFA and the National Peanut Board, under the commodity board provision in the 2014 Farm Bill, are co-funding USDA Agricultural Research Service work to develop reliable diagnostic tests for peanut and tree nut allergies. As part of NIFA's partnership with the U.S.-Israel Binational Agricultural Research and Development Fund, the University of California, Davis, will study how harmful Salmonella bacteria colonize lettuce crops. The results may inform pre-harvest food safety methods in the fresh produce industry.

This set of awards also includes a project where University of Minnesota researchers will investigate the use of cold plasma technology to decontaminate food and food-processing surfaces. Ohio State University researchers will develop BPA (bisphenol A) free coatings to improve the safety and maintain the shelf life of canned foods. BPA is an industrial chemical thought to have significant negative effects on human health.

Fiscal Year 2016 grants, which include 59 grants, totaling $24 million were awarded. They include:

AFRI Foundational Program: Improving Food Safety

  • University of California, Davis, California, $495,482
  • University of California, Davis, California, $499,893
  • California State University, Northridge, California, $150,000
  • University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut, $150,000
  • University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut, $150,000
  • University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware, $230,690
  • University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, $500,000
  • Florida International University, Miami, Florida, $258,253
  • Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, Illinois, $258,253
  • University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, $13,500
  • Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, $498,599
  • Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, $499,118
  • University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota, $498,234
  • University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, Mississippi, $500,000
  • USDA Agricultural Research Service, Stoneville, Mississippi, $489,804
  • Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, $50,000
  • Cleveland State University, Cleveland, Ohio, $258,253
  • University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, $499,862
  • Texas A&M AgriLife Research, College Station, Texas, $230,691
  • Partnership for Food Safety Education, Arlington, Virginia, $49,984
  • AFRI Foundational Program: Function and Efficacy of Nutrients

    • University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, $25,802
    • University of California, Davis, California, $469,257
    • University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut, $150,000
    • Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, $470,000
    • University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois,$504,616
    • University of Illinois, Chicago, Illinois, $470,000
    • Tufts University, Boston, Massachusetts, $471,657
    • Tufts University, Boston, Massachusetts, $469,884
    • Tufts University, Boston, Massachusetts, $469,994
    • Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana, $150,000
    • University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska, $469,949
    • Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, $470,667
    • Pennsylvania State University, State College, Pennsylvania, $469,648
    • University of Rhode Island, Kingston, Rhode Island, $470,000
    • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia, $505,587

    AFRI Foundational Program: Improving Food Quality

    • California State University, Los Angeles, California, $149,998
    • University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut, $149,801
    • University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, $404,435
    • Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, $452,675
    • Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, $363,822
    • Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, $361,237
    • University of Maine, Orono, Maine, $8,781
    • Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, Mississippi, $454,986
    • Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, New Jersey, $454,735
    • Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, $455,000
    • The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, $454,964
    • The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, $441,291
    • Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Oklahoma, $149,980
    • Utah State University, Logan, Utah, $454,404
    • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia, $454,741
    • University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin, $454,361

    AFRI Foundational Program: Understanding Antimicrobial Resistance

    • Beckman Research Institute of the City of Hope, Duarte, California, $387,518
    • Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, $499,982

    AFRI Food Safety Challenge Area: Effective Mitigation Strategies for Antimicrobial Resistance

    • Iowa State University of Science and Technology, Ames, Iowa, $1,199,994
    • Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, $50,000
    • University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska, $1,200,000
    • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia, $1,200,000
    • University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin, $1,200,000

    AFRI Food Safety Challenge Area: Assessment of the AFRI Food Safety Challenge Area

    • Research Triangle Institute, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, $300,000

    ###

    More information on these projects is available on the NIFA website.

    Among previously funded projects, University of Rochester and Cornell University scientists investigated compounds in wine grapes and pomace, a fermented grape mash and waste product, discovering that they inhibit tooth decay. A product that prevents tooth decay can be made from this readily available waste and would have significant societal benefits. Purdue University researchers investigated developing carbohydrates that digest slowly, trigger feelings of satiety, and control nutrient delivery rate to the body. The study shows that dietary carbohydrates, if delivered properly, can support weight management.

    Among past AFRI Food Safety Challenge Area projects, scientists at Kansas State and Texas A& M Universities, successfully launched a website, KSUantibiotics.org. The website offers resources on how to manage use of these drugs in animals while conserving their effectiveness for humans.

    A project at Washington State University is investigating how a combination of biology, psychology, and ecology can be used to mitigate antibiotic resistance in livestock production. The scientists found that specific factors, such as positive rewards from supervisors, motivated how animal care providers used antibiotics.

    NIFA's mission is to invest in and advance agricultural research, education, and extension to solve societal challenges. NIFA's investments in transformative science directly support the long-term prosperity and global preeminence of U.S. agriculture. To learn more about NIFA's impact on agricultural sciences, visit http://www.nifa.usda.gov/Impacts, sign up for email updates, or follow us on Twitter @USDA_NIFA, #NIFAImpacts.

    USDA is an equal opportunity lender, provider, and employer.

    Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.