USDA unveils food safety research agenda


Washington-The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) unveiled its "unified" food safety research agenda.

Washington-The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) unveiled its "unified" food safety research agenda.

The research agenda is one of several key initiatives USDA is implementing to enhance food safety and improve food inspection systems.

"Assuring the safety of our food supply is a priority for the Bush administration," says USDA Secretary Ann M. Veneman. "Through a unified research effort we will continue to make progress to sustain and increase food safety."

USDA also released a list of additional research needs specific to meat, poultry and egg products that the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) will encourage non-governmental entities to address. The government research agenda will complement these efforts by industry and academia, USDA says.

This new agenda is said to prioritize research needs and maximize use of available resources. Highlights include:

  • Investigate the ecology, epidemiology, virulence and genetic characteristics related to pathogenicity for E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes and other foodborne pathogens to identify targeted control measures.

  • Develop effective on-farm, feedlot, transportation, handling and other pre-processing intervention strategies for reducing the incidence and levels of antibiotic resistant microorganisms and key foodborne pathogens in meat, poultry, eggs and fresh produce.

  • Develop, validate and transfer technology of new and improved processing methods to reduce or eliminate key foodborne pathogens in meat, poultry, fresh produce, seafood and ready-to-eat foods.

  • Develop rapid and sensitive detection methods for abnormal prions to prevent the possible spread of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies.
  • FSIS released a food safety vision document in July that outlines key steps to improve food safety and protect public health.

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