The LSU AgCenter food safety program is part of 2019 National Excellence in Multistate Research Award. The award is presented by U.S. Department of Agriculture - National Institute of Food and Agriculture to recognize scientists who are conducting exemplary research and outreach efforts across multiple states. The LSU AgCenter food safety team includes Marlene Janes, Achyut Adhikari, and Wenqing Xu.
Foodborne illnesses are common and costly. In the U.S., an estimated 48 million people get sick each year, and 3,000 die, from foodborne illnesses. Related medical expenses total over $55 billion annually. Food companies feel the pain, too. In addition to damaging brand reputation and sales, food recalls can cost companies millions of dollars in direct expenses.
Preventing foodborne illnesses is possible, but difficult. A wide variety of viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites can cause harm, and contamination can occur at every point in the food system.
Since 2000, a multidisciplinary team of researchers and Extension educators from 39 institutions across the U.S. have worked together to address food safety concerns. This project is the first attempt to develop comprehensive risk-based strategies that control foodborne pathogens in all foods and at all points in the food system. Over the last five years, researchers formed more than 150 collaborative projects, published over 500 peer-reviewed articles, and fostered an inclusive environment in which new researchers can grow. These efforts have expanded knowledge and set the foundation for future work on food safety.
The group won the 2019 National Excellence in Multistate Research Award in recognition of their outstanding collaborative research, development, and education efforts, which will continue to improve food safety and reduce the risk of foodborne illness for years to come.
Collaboration has led to inventive strategies that can help prevent food safety threats before they become dangerous and costly. Researchers have:
Researchers found ways to prevent or eliminate food safety threats along the entire food supply chain, such as:
Achyut Adhikari (left), LSU AgCenter food safety researchers, works with a team to evaluate food safety risks from contaminated seedlings.
Wenqing Xu (left), LSU AgCenter food safety researcher, works with a graduate student in her lab.
Marlene Janes (right), LSU AgCenter food safety researcher, works with a student in her lab.