The Center for Produce Safety, Woodland, Calif., is sponsoring a $500,000 challenge, seeking answers to cross-contamination issues in growing areas.
Through the GRABIT (Grower’s Risk Assessment Biomarkers Investigative Tool) Award and Innovation Challenge, CPS wants to develop ways to identify "evidence of chronic or acute transfer factors from a domesticated animal point source."
An E. coli outbreak in spring 2018 that killed five people was traced to romaine lettuce from Yuma, Ariz. Tests found a genetic match to the E. coli in water in an irrigation canal. That canal passed by a cattle lot with a capacity of 100,000 head of cattle, but researchers have yet to identify how the E. coli was specifically transferred to the romaine.
The GRABIT Challenge, however, is not limited to large-scale operations or any one type of animal, according to the CPS. All domesticated animal operations and geographic regions would be considered, making the tool of use to growers throughout the country.
GRABIT is the start of a multi-part effort from CPS to address produce supply chain research needs.
“CPS anticipates that the outcomes of this competitive award-based innovation and development challenge will include a diverse set of grower-oriented and, ideally, on-farm deployed tools — from solid proof-of-concept to pre-commercial beta-test ready kits,” according to the release.
Applications for the challenge are due April 22, and the awards will be announced at the 2019 CPS Research Symposium in Austin, Texas.
Up to $500,000 is available through the GRABIT challenge, and the award structure has three tiers:
- Prime-Time Ready — Four awards of $75,000;
- Solid Proof of Potential — Five awards of $30,000; and
- Promising Proof of Concept — Five awards of $10,000.
More information on the program, including how to participate, is on the Center for Produce Safety website: https://www.centerforproducesafety.org/grant_opportunities.php.