Food safety research priorities for meat, poultry and egg products have been updated by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).
The review is designed to guide external researchers on areas to target for study and funding that would support FSIS objectives.
"Our goal is to effectively use science to understand foodborne illness and emerging trends," said USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Elisabeth Hagan.
"External research is critical to our public health mission and ultimately serves as another tool at our disposal to protect the food supply for more than 300 million Americans."
Examples of current research that support the agency's priorities include a five-year, $25m grant from the National Institute of Food & Agriculture, awarded earlier this year, said FSIS.
This involved 10 universities and 14 lead researchers studying Shiga-toxin producing E.coli. The USDA's Agricultural Research Service launched an examination into the identification of factors that enable strains of salmonella in ground turkey to induce foodborne illness.
The research priority update is the latest measure FSIS has put in place during the current US administration to safeguard the food supply, prevent foodborne illness, and improve consumers' knowledge about food.
It follows calls from FSIS for producers of not-ready-to-eat ground chicken and turkey to reassess their implementation of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) standards after recent salmonella outbreaks.
At the same time, FSIS also announced plans to expand its Salmonella Verification Sampling Programme for Raw Meat and Poultry product.
FSIS convenes an internal Research Priorities Panel to review priorities and identify potential additions to the priorities list. The panel includes representatives from all FSIS disciplines.
FSIS identified official Agency research priorities for the first time in its history in December 2011. For a complete list of its research priorities, go to: www.fsis.usda.gov/Science/Food_Safety_Research_Priorities/ .
Other actions taken by the USDA in the past few years include implementing a zero-tolerance policy for non-Shiga-toxin producing E.coli strains in raw beef manufacturing trim and new performance standards for poultry establishments.