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News

Researchers work to prevent intentional food contamination

University Of Wisconsin-Madison : 08 July, 2004  (Technical Article)
The University of Wisconsin-Madison will use its share of a three-year, $15 million grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to investigate ways to detect intentional contamination of the nation's food supply.
The work is part of the Homeland Security Center for Food Protection and Defense, a national consortium of academic, private and government partners housed at the University of Minnesota. The center will establish best practices and attract new researchers to prevent, manage and respond to intentional food contamination events.

On the UW-Madison campus, College of Engineering experts in sensing technology will collaborate with College of Agricultural and Life Sciences experts on food pathogens and toxins to develop a variety of sensing systems that can respond rapidly to food contamination. Research will be aimed at improving the reliability and speed at which biological toxins and other chemical agents can be detected, as well as investigating ways to use sensors to detect when food packaging has been compromised or the contents contaminated.

'It is extremely important to ensure that a food product has not been tampered with,' says Michael Pariza, a professor of food microbiology and toxicology and campus principal investigator.

Relying on the expertise of more than 90 investigators from universities, research facilities, state agencies and private industry, the federal center will focus its overall effort on studying areas such as informatics, scenario planning and epidemiological modeling. UW-Madison, Michigan State University and North Dakota State University are partner institutions with the University of Minnesota.

Pariza, who directs the nationally recognized Food Research Institute, says the contributions from UW-Madison investigators will be substantial. 'The overall product of this research is going to be safer food,' he says.
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