January 16, 2018

FDA Offers Prize for Breakthrough Food Safety Ideas

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is offering a challenge to scientists on how to identify Salmonella in produce. The challenge, called “Advancing Breakthroughs in Foodborne Pathogen Detection” offers $500,000 in prizes for “cutting-edge techniques to achieve significant improvements in the speed of the FDA’s detection methods for Salmonella with identification to the subtype/serovar level in minimally processed fresh produce.” Five finalists will be awarded $20,000 each.

FDAThe government is most interested in ideas that use novel or revolutionary techniques for detection and those that explore the acceleration or elimination of sample preparation. The challenge was developed under the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 that gives federal agencies the ability to hold competitions.

Attorney Fred Pritzker, who has represented clients injured in foodborne illness outbreaks for decades said of the challenge, “This is a great, long overdue idea. Hopefully, it will lead to some ‘outside-the-box’ innovation that is badly needed in food safety, particularly involving Salmonella.”

Ideas must be submitted by November 9, 2014. Judges include experts from the FDA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the USDA, including Dr. Darcy Hanes of the FDA, Dr. John Johnston of the USDA, and Dr. Patricia Fields of the CDC. The concepts will be judged on speed, improved detection and path to impact, applicability, whether the concept is revolutionary, and execution. The concepts can be targeted to any point in the food system from harvest to packaging and point of sale. Proof of the concept should be similar to FDA’s validation methods. You can stay up to date on the challenge by following the Food Safety Challenge Blog.

The CDC estimates that 1 in 6 Americans is sickened with foodborne illness every year, leading to more than 200,000 hospitalizations. About 3,000 people die every year of their illnesses. The negative overall impact of food poisoning on the U.S. economy is estimated to be $77 billion every year. Salmonella infections are the leading cause of deaths and hospitalizations related to foodborne illness. And contaminated produce is responsible for nearly half of all foodborne illnesses and almost 25% of foodborne illness-related deaths.

 

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