F.D.A. gives $17.5 million in food, feed safety grants

by Eric Schroeder
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WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration on Oct. 9 awarded $17.5 million in fiscal 2009 to further food and feed safety. The funding covers 83 grants that will cover four major areas: response, intervention, innovation and prevention.

"These cooperative agreements support and enhance local food safety efforts," said Michael Chappel, acting associate commissioner for regulatory affairs at the F.D.A. "The grants are another step in the F.D.A.’s continuing efforts to build an integrated food safety system between federal, state and local partners."

The Food Protection Rapid Response Team (R.R.T.) and Program Infrastructure Improvement Prototype Project agreements, which are part of the response area of funding, will develop, implement, exercise and integrate an all-hazards food and foodborne illness response capability to more rapidly react to potential threats to the U.S. food supply, according to the F.D.A. Virginia, Texas and Washington received up to $500,000 in fiscal 2009 to form an R.R.T., conduct a program assessment, purchase additional equipment and suppliers, fund personnel, and train and share information and data.

On the intervention front, grants for Food Safety and Security Monitoring will be used to fund Food Emergency Response Network laboratories (FERN). According to the F.D.A., the FERN laboratories provide additional capacity for analyzing food samples in the event of foodborne disease outbreaks or other large-scale food emergency events. Selected laboratories received up to $350,000 in grant funds for microbiological, chemical or radiological analysis capacity.

The Innovative Food Defense Projects grants were awarded to Wisconsin and North Carolina, as well as to Riverside County (California) Department of Environmental Health and Westchester County (New York) Department of Health. Each recipient received up to $62,500 to generate products that complement, develop or improve state and local food defense programs.

The final area, prevention, includes the Food Protection Task Force Conference program that supports meetings that foster communication, cooperation and collaboration among state, local and tribal food protection, public health, agriculture and regulatory agencies. Pennsylvania and New Hampshire were selected to receive awards up to $5,000 in fiscal 2009, joining 22 other states and the District of Columbia that already have existing grants.

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