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Strategy to fight salmonella outlined; Texas Tech part of $700,000 USDA grant

Strategy to fight salmonella outlined; Texas Tech part of $700,000 USDA grant

Texas Tech’s International Center for Food Safety Excellence is part of a broad effort to develop detection and surveillance networks to help protect from future outbreaks of salmonella bacteria. Earlier this year Tech, Angelo State University and California State University-Fresno received a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture totaling more than $700,000.

The three-year project is titled, “Building Laboratory and Intellectual Capacity in order to Effectively Detect and Reduce Salmonella in the Food Supply.”  In addition, it establishes a partnership among the academic trio with Port Washington, NY-based Pall Corp., a global microbiology equipment manufacturer.

Through the project, the ICFIE research team hopes to achieve four objectives:

  • Create permanent collaborative partnerships.
  • Identify and effectively recruit high-ability undergraduate students into graduate programs through organized opportunities in undergraduate research.
  • Prepare graduate students to become future agents of change in the food industry.
  • Provide university faculty with the opportunity, means and locations to learn, teach and cooperatively share information with organizations and academic institutions in multiple Latin American nations.

Salmonella infections, which tend to be most severe among infants, older adults and the sick, can be life-threatening to those with weak immune systems. People infected with salmonella develop diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps within 12 to 72 hours after exposure, according to a statement from the federal Food and Drug Administration’s Coordinated Outbreak Response and Evaluation Network.

Most people recover within a week. However, in some cases, the diarrhea is severe and the infection can spread from the intestines to the blood stream and then to other parts of the body. If not treated quickly, it can lead to death. Each year, about 400 people in the United States die from acute salmonellosis, according to the F.D.A.

As part of their contribution to the project, Pall Corp. donated an annual $1,000 student travel scholarship and $150,000 worth of equipment and supplies, including a GeneDisc which allows for up to six pathogens to be tested at once. “This gives us the ability to check for a variety of pathogens in a very short amount of time with a much smaller budget,” said Todd Brashears, chair of the ICFIE Outreach and Education Division and an associate professor within Tech’s Department of Agricultural Education and Communications.

Written by Faith Jurek

CONTACT: Todd Brashears, associate professor, Department of Agricultural Education & Communication Texas Tech University at todd.brashears@ttu.edu

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