FDA awards $5.2 million for food and feed safety projects

Oct 1, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday announced that it awarded 17 food and feed safety grants totaling $5.2 million to state and local regulatory agencies.

Michael Chappell, the FDA's acting associate commissioner for regulatory affairs, said in a statement that the 1-year grants are cooperative agreements that are designed to support some of the food protection efforts included in the FDA's Food Protection Plan. The FDA unveiled the Food Protection Plan in November 2007 in the wake of high-profile contamination incidents over the past few years involving domestic and imported foods.

"The grants represent an important step in the FDA's continued efforts and integrate and improve the effectiveness of food safety systems at the federal, state, and local levels," Chappell said. The awards address four areas: the ruminant feed ban support program, food safety and security monitoring, innovative food defense, and rapid response teams.

FDA support will allow state, local, and tribal governments to strengthen their animal feed safety and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or "mad cow") prevention programs, the statement said. Awards of up to $250,000 went to groups in Iowa, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Washington. The funds will allow recipients to locate and visit companies that produce, distribute, and transport animal feed and verify compliance with BSE/ruminant feed bans. The grant money can also be used to assist educational outreach.

The food safety and security portion of the grants will fund Food Emergency Response Network chemical laboratories and can be used to upgrade facilities, train employees in current food-testing methods, and boost laboratory sample analysis capacity, the FDA said. In the event of a chemical terrorism attack, recipients may be required to analyze food samples submitted by the FDA or other government agencies. Grants of up to $350,000 were awarded to Colorado, California, and Ohio.

Food defense grants are intended to generate new solutions and outreach to bridge gaps in or enhance food defense, such as ALERT (Assure, Look, Employees, Reports, and Threat) system for food establishments or the FIRST (Follow, Inspect, Recognize, Secure, and Tell) system for employees, the FDA said in its statement. The awards of up to $40,000 went to two counties, Riverside in California and Multnomah in Oregon, and to the states of Pennsylvania and South Carolina.

For the first cooperative agreement addressing rapid response teams, the funding will enable groups to develop, implement, exercise, and integrate an all-hazards food and foodborne illness response capability. The FDA said the rapid response teams will coordinate with other food and feed agencies. The groups will use incident command structure response protocols and a formalized crisis management system. Grants of up to $500,000 went to North Carolina, Massachusetts, California, Michigan, Florida, and Minnesota.

See also:

Sep 30 FDA news release

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