The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Safety, co-located at Cornell and Purdue University, has announced $2.9 million in grants for research projects to improve food safety and prevent foodborne illness in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Kenya and Senegal.
The competitively funded, 3 ½-year projects will focus on identifying knowledge gaps, enhancing local capacity for food safety research, and translating research into improved food-handling policies and practices.
“These projects represent a diverse portfolio of research and outreach with great potential to enhance not only food safety in the target countries, but also to promote resilient local and regional food systems,” said Randy Worobo, associate director of the Food Safety Innovation Lab (FSIL) and professor of food science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS). “You can’t achieve food security without food safety.”
“Bacterial pathogens are responsible for most of the burden of foodborne disease worldwide, yet work on bacterial food safety is underfunded, understudied and undersupported,” said Haley Oliver, Ph.D. ’09, FSIL director and professor of food science at Purdue University. “Our team of FSIL technical experts and researchers is well suited to address this issue and support this work.”
Each project is led by collaborative teams of researchers from U.S.-based universities and in-country institutions, and will target foods that are nutritionally important to local diets. The new projects are:
“In selecting proposals,” Oliver said, “we had specific food sector priorities for each country and a focus on bacterial – rather than chemical – hazards to food safety.”
She also noted that the projects prioritize helping women overcome barriers to safer foods and creating partnerships with Minority Serving Institutions.
Cornell and Purdue announced FSIL’s launch in August 2019, and their work aims to solve some of the world’s greatest challenges in agriculture and food insecurity. FSIL is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development as part of Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative.
Of the initiative’s 21 innovation labs, the FSIL is the first to exclusively focus on the role of food safety in breaking cycles of foodborne illnesses, malnutrition and food insecurity.
The four new projects are the largest funded by FSIL to date, joining five short-term food safety projects in Bangladesh, Cambodia, East Africa and Senegal, as well as a multi-country, COVID-19 rapid-response project led by Martin Wiedmann, the Gellert Family Professor in Food Safety at CALS and a FSIL technical adviser.
Amanda Garris is the communications specialist for the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Safety.
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