Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman has announced a unified food safety research agenda to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of food safety programs. The plan is one of several key initiatives the Department of Agriculture is implementing to enhance food safety and improve food inspection systems.
The agenda prioritizes research needs and maximizes use of available resources. Priorities include an investigation into the ecology, epidemiology, virulence, and genetic characteristics related to pathogenicity for Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes, and other foodborne pathogens, to identify targeted control measures.
The agenda also calls for the development of effective farm, feedlot, transportation, handling, and other preprocessing intervention strategies for reducing the incidence and concentrations of antimicrobial-resistant microorganisms and key foodborne pathogens in meat, poultry, eggs, and fresh produce. It sets goals of developing, validating, and transferring technology of new and improved processing methods aimed at those food products, as well as at seafood and ready-to-eat foods. The agenda also calls for the development of rapid and sensitive detection methods for abnormal prions, to prevent the possible spread of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies.
The USDA Research, Education, and Economics mission area worked with the USDA Office of Food Safety, other government food safety agencies, and stakeholders to develop the new agenda, which can be found at www.reeusda.gov/ree/pdf/foodsaf_research.pdf.
The USDA also recently released a list of additional research needs specific to meat, poultry, and egg products, and the agency will encourage nongovernmental entities to address them. They can be found at www.fsis.usda.gov/oa/programs/research_priorities.htm.