WASHINGTON – Feedback on the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) program was provided by the American Meat Institute Foundation (AMIF) during a stakeholders meeting held Feb. 22. In light of significant food-safety challenges the meat and poultry industry faces, continuous support and long-term funding of food-safety research was encouraged by AMIF.

There is an immediate and critical need to develop real-time or near real-time microbial sampling and testing technologies, said Betsy Booren, Ph.D., AMIF director of scientific affairs. “The meat and poultry industry uses a preventive food-safety process management system that rely on the monitoring of parameters to ensure the system is in control,” she added. “One tool commonly utilized is microbial testing. The results help companies make real-time decision about the products they are producing.”

Greater understanding of human salmonellosis is also needed, she added. Booren further suggested AFRI develop a program that examines the human acquisition factors of Salmonella as well as the causative species that cause illness; look into whether causative species are commodity specific; how to better attribute Salmonella to specific food illnesses; and to address what the role of competitive exclusion in preventing illness is, among other things.

The NIFA and the AFRI program were strongly encouraged by AMIF to reexamine foodborne illnesses, outbreaks, prevalence and other public-health data used to determine funding priority areas that will reduce the public health risk of consuming certain foods and that will attribute the illnesses more rapidly.

“The AFRI program should target .... the areas of greatest societal impact for the development of future RFAs,” Booren said. “For instance, the foodborne illnesses associated with Salmonella have remained virtually unchanged despite decreases of prevalence in meat and poultry products. Research should be focused to improve the health of Americans.”

Research recommendations were also made by AMIF regarding controlling Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) in fresh beef products, controlling Listeria monocytogenes on ready-to-eat meat and poultry products and controlling Salmonella

Click here to read the specific research recommendations and all AMIF comments.