WASHINGTON – The US Food and Drug Administration put a bounty, of sorts, on foodborne pathogens.

The agency is looking for breakthrough ideas on how to find disease-causing organisms in food as part of the 2014 FDA Food Safety Challenge. The competition was developed under the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 which gives federal agencies the authority to conduct prize competitions to spur innovation, solve problems and advance core missions. The FDA challenge offers a total prize pool of $500,000.

“We are thrilled to announce the FDA’s first incentive prize competition under the America COMPETES Act,” said Michael Taylor, the FDA deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine. “This is an exciting opportunity for the federal government to collaborate with outside experts to bring forth breakthrough ideas and technologies that can help ensure quicker detection of problems in our food supply and help prevent foodborne illnesses.”

Scientists, academics, entrepreneurs and innovators, as well as those new to the field of food safety, are encouraged to participate in the competition. The agency is interested in detection of Salmonella in minimally processed fresh produce, but the ability of a solution to address testing for other pathogens and in other foods is encouraged. A panel of food safety and pathogen detection experts from the FDA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the US Department of Agriculture will judge the submissions, determine finalists, and select a winner or winners.

Concepts must be submitted to the FDA by Nov. 9, 2014. Up to five entries will be selected to advance as finalists. Finalists will receive $20,000 and will have the opportunity to be coached by FDA subject matter experts who will help them mature their ideas before they present their refined concepts to the judges.

Visit http://www.foodsafetychallenge.com to submit a concept and view a complete list of challenge rules.