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 included 59 grants, totaling $24 million. To see a full list of grants awarded, click here