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MSU researchers join USDA food safety effort
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Two Mississippi State University veterinary science researchers hope to help prevent a portion of the 76 million cases of food poisoning in the United States each year.
Hart Bailey and Bob Wills are researchers in MSU's College of Veterinary Medicine Department of Pathobiology and Population Medicine. They focus their research efforts on preventing food-borne illnesses during the production phase.
The new Food Safety Research and Response Network is a multi-institutional, multi-disciplinary team of more than 50 food safety experts from 18 colleges and universities. These experts will investigate several of the most prevalent food-related illness pathogens. The program is funded by a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service.
"The work of the Food Safety Research and Response Network directly complements our current efforts to determine where along the production chain to concentrate treatment efforts to reduce disease pathogens in the animals," Bailey said. "The funds from this new program will allow us to address specific food safety issues as they develop."
Teams of researchers from the 18 universities and institutions will study different food safety pathogens in each major agricultural commodity. The MSU researchers are working specifically to identify Salmonella risk factors in the poultry industry.
"The efforts of this network of food safety researchers can accomplish much more than any individual could. The different areas of expertise, different viewpoints and different experiences of this network of people give us more resources to address food safety issues," Bailey said.
The Network also will serve as a response team of experts. At the request of other federal and state agencies, the team would be mobilized to conduct focused research needed to control major episodes of food-related illness. This could include the investigation of health problems associated with agricultural bioterrorism and the deliberate contamination of agricultural commodities.
Bailey and Wills are in the final year of a USDA National Research Initiative grant that served as the starting point for the Food Safety Research and Response Network. With funds from the NRI grant, the researchers converted a 28-foot recreational vehicle into a mobile food safety lab that they take to poultry farms and processing plants. The goal of this project is to determine the best point along the production chain to concentrate treatment efforts to reduce Salmonella and Campylobacter in flocks.
Contact: Dr. Hart Bailey, (662) 325-7726