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The Grand Challenge: Salmonella

The Grand Challenge: Salmonella

By Scott Elliott

Today is World Food Safety Day, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) has launched a sweeping new initiative known as the Salmonella Grand Challenge. The project brings together an elite group of ARS, university and food industry scientists from different specialties to fight Salmonella, a foodborne pathogen that sickens over a million Americans each year, sometimes fatally. The challenge complements the work being done by the Food Safety and Inspection Service to develop a more effective strategy to reduce human Salmonella illness linked to poultry.

ARS’ goal is to integrate its research to learn more about how and where Salmonella causes the highest risk of contamination to meat and poultry products. That information will help researchers develop better monitoring tools for meat and poultry producers to detect Salmonella contamination.

Salmonella, the bacterium that causes the illness called salmonellosis, lurks just about everywhere – on animals (including pets), in food, water, soil and even air. People infected by Salmonella suffer symptoms that can include diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, chills, headache, nausea and vomiting. Serious infections can lead to life-long health problems and even death.

The ARS team will integrate its ongoing research by combining, standardizing and coordinating efforts to create harmonized datasets. This will help them identify larger trends, emerging threats and novel Salmonella mitigation strategies.

That’s a large task because there are over 2,500 types of Salmonella bacteria and their risks are different across all production systems. The research team will use machine-learning tools to manage and bring together this huge amount of data. The collaboration will help researchers learn from each other and will hopefully lead to break-through discoveries.

The Salmonella Grand Challenge will enable researchers to better understand Salmonella risk, develop accurate models, and develop tools for meat and poultry producers to monitor their operations. Ultimately, the team hopes their efforts will contribute to the Healthy People 2030 objective of reducing salmonellosis by 25%. This work helps drive USDA’s commitment to ensuring a safe U.S. food supply.

Source : usda.gov

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