Harald Scherm, CAES assistant dean for research, says grants such as this are invaluable for the continued success of agricultural research, especially as agriculture colleges like CAES face continued cuts to standard funding. Over the past three years, CAES’s budget has been cut by 25 percent.

"This award speaks to the quality of our programs in food science and technology as well as food safety, which are top-ranked in the nation,” Scherm said.

“The breadth and depth of these programs allows our scientists and their collaborators to address objectives ranging from basic research on pathogen inactivation to Extension education and pilot plant testing with equipment and meat industry partners."

The U.S. food supply is considered to be one of the safest in the world. However, 48 million Americans become sick each year due to foodborne illnesses, according to USDA reports.

A joint effort

The CAES researchers will work with scientists from the UGA Physics Department, the USDA Meat and Animal Research Center and Texas A&M University.

An advisory board comprised of beef processors, food processors, grocery store chain representatives, regulatory agencies and industry representatives will also work together with scientists on the project.

Awarded through the USDA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, the grant is administered through the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. It is one of 24 grants awarded in an effort to reduce foodborne illnesses and deaths from microbial contamination.

“The success of this project will help ensure consumers’ safety when consuming non-intact beef products and ready to eat products, like deli meats,” Hung said.