Twenty-five U.S. institutions focusing on poultry, other meat and produce have been awarded food safety grants to fund their research by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Arizona State University was awarded $1.49 million to study how E. coli is transmitted from chickens to humans by analyzing bacteria found on chicken products, including meat and eggs, and evaluating these strains. The project will also evaluate a safe, easy-to-use vaccine to protect against E. coli infections in chickens and reduce or eliminate the risk of contamination in poultry products. The University of Connecticut was given $866,700 to determine the prevalence of Clostridium difficile in ground chicken, pork and beef in retail stores in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Alabama. The project will also work to identify and develop appropriate control strategies and spread science-based information to professionals, regulatory agencies and the public.

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“These grants support the development of a more complete understanding of the sources and implications of microbial contamination and will promote the adoption of new food safety strategies and technologies," said Dr. Catherine Woteki, USDA chief scientist and under secretary for research, education and economics. "The goal is to greatly improve the safety of our food supply and ultimately save lives.” Projects were funded in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.