The Center for Produce Safety has awarded three sets of researchers funds to develop tools that can help growers identify and evaluate food safety risks posed by the proximity of fresh produce fields to farm animals.
CPS awarded a total of $135,000 in innovation challenge awards to three teams of scientists, according to a news release.
The center’s inaugural challenge called for “Growers’ Risk Assessment Biomarker Investigative Tools” (GRABIT) to help growers identify and evaluate pre-harvest risks posed by the potential transfer of contamination biomarkers, focused primarily on airborne transport, from animal feeding operations, according to the release.
“Our GRABIT awards are designed to stimulate the science and technology communities, to bring us relevant tools that our growers and processors can use to better manage the relationship between plant and animal agriculture,” Dave Corsi, vice president of produce and floral for Wegmans Food Markets, said in the release.
“These new awards are just one of the ways that CPS has revamped our research funding programs, to be more flexible and responsible to industry’s needs.”
The release said challenge awards were given to:
- A Purdue University team working to harness microfluidics technology to detect indicators of zoonotic (animal) pathogens of human foodborne illness concerns;
- UC-Davis and Auburn researchers seeking to develop a field tool to detect a broad fecal indicator group (known as Bacteriodales) associated with all animals; and
- Nano Reagents LLC, a firm working to harness aptamer technology to detect multiple animal biomarkers, with or without co-detection of pathogen.