The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced 35 research projects totaling nearly $24 million have been selected for funding to improve food safety by helping control microbial and chemical contamination in various foods.

“Foodborne illness affects approximately one in six Americans each year, making USDA’s investment in food safety science a high priority that will have direct impact on thousands of lives,” said Sonny Ramaswamy, NIFA director. “Our goal is to reduce the number of illnesses and protect the food supply through research, education and Extension efforts focused on all levels of the food chain – from farm to fork.”

NIFA made the awards through its Agriculture and Food Research Initiative’s (AFRI) Food Safety program. The program’s goal is to protect consumers from microbial and chemical contaminants that may occur in the food chain, from production to consumption. This year, AFRI’s Food Safety program focused on developing effective mitigation strategies for antimicrobial resistance, understanding the physical and molecular mechanisms of food contamination, and improving the safety of fresh and fresh-cut fruits and vegetables. In addition, the program addressed critical and emerging food safety hazards to help prevent contamination and outbreaks.

The AFRI Food Safety program comprises four sub-programs. The following projects have been selected for awards in each sub-program:

Addressing Critical and Emerging Food Safety Issues

  • University of Georgia, Athens, Ga., $298,799
  • Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, $298,686
  • Michigan State University, East Lansing, Mich., $299,999
  • Michigan State University, East Lansing, Mich., $299,999
  • University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Neb., $299,989
  • Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, $299,955

Effective Mitigation Strategies for Antimicrobial Resistance

  • University of Arizona, Tucson, Ariz., $29,872
  • Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kan., $800,000
  • Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, $799,958

Improving the Safety of Fresh and Fresh-Cut Produce

  • University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Ark., $414,185
  • Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Va., $424,955
  • University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho, $424,930
  • Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind., $423,204
  • Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, $424,846
  • Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, Ky., $209,928
  • University of Maryland, College Park, Md., $424,999
  • Lincoln University, Jefferson City, Mo., $147,110
  • North Dakota State University, Fargo, N.D., $147,603
  • University of Houston, Houston, Texas, $304,163
  • University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisc., $424,983

Physical and Molecular Mechanisms of Food Contamination

  • University of California, Davis, Calif., $499, 921
  • University of California, Davis, Calif., $499, 946
  • University of Delaware, Newark, Del., $499, 802
  • Georgia Tech, Atlanta, Ga., $500, 000
  • Georgia Tech, Atlanta, Ga., $499, 953
  • University of Georgia, Athens, Ga., $499, 848
  • University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii, $498, 413
  • Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, Ill., $499, 429
  • University of Illinois, Urbana, Ill., $499, 941
  • University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Mass., $495, 950
  • Michigan State University, East Lansing, Mich., $380, 121
  • North Carolina Central University, Durham, N.C., $497, 723
  • Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, $499, 568
  • Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, $500, 000
  • Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Okla., $27, 500

AFRI is NIFA’s flagship competitive grants program and was established under the 2008 Farm Bill. The five AFRI challenge areas – food safety, global food security, childhood obesity prevention, sustainable bioenergy and climate adaptation – advance fundamental sciences and deliver science-based knowledge to people, allowing them to make informed practical decisions.

Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and Extension programs, NIFA focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people’s daily lives and the nation’s future. For more information, visit