USDA to fund research

USDA to fund research

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said in April it would allocate $2 million for research into the safety of ready-to-eat foods following a recent string of recalls due to food contaminated with the deadly bacteria Listeria montocytogenes.

In a Federal Register notice, the USDA states, “The purpose of this grant program is to support problem-solving, food-safety research that addresses current and emerging national issues in food safety.“

The USDA hopes research will help pinpoint the food-safety risks of uncooked foods such as hot dogs, which were linked to an outbreak of listeriosis in several states early this year.

The research funding is part of nearly $4.7 million the USDA says it will offer to detect ways to prevent foodborne illness from imported fruits and vegetables, processed foods and ready-to-eat foods. The USDA also wants to discover safer production methods for fresh fruits and vegetables and find faster sampling techniques for detecting contamination.

But critics at the Midwest Council of Meat Inspectors Local call the USDA`s research plans “outrageous.”

“This is outrageous! The [contaminated hot dogs] mentioned were produced after the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) eliminated Sanitation Directives and were produced in a HACCP plant, which proves “self-policing” doesn`t work. And, inspectors in that plant were targeted for redeployment to reduce the numbers of eyes safeguarding consumer protection,” says Allan Shadduck, in a statement mailed to the inspector`s union`s newsgroup. “Couldn`t the $2 million be better spent correcting these three wrongs?” he asks.

Applications from colleges, industry groups or other scientists for the research money are due by June 4, the USDA says. — JK


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