The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is asking for potential breakthrough ideas on how to find disease-causing organisms in food – especially Salmonella in fresh produce.
The 2014 FDA Food Safety Challenge was developed under the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010, which grants all federal agencies broad authority to conduct prize competitions to spur innovation, solve tough problems, and advance their core missions. This challenge offers a total prize pool of $500,000.
Concepts must be able specifically to address the detection of Salmonella in minimally processed fresh produce, but the ability of a solution to address testing for other microbial pathogens and in other foods is encouraged.
Food safety experts such as scientists, academics, entrepreneurs, and innovators, as well as those new to the field, are encouraged to participate in the challenge, which launched September 23. A panel of food safety and pathogen detection experts from the FDA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture will judge the submissions, determine finalists, and select a winner or winners.
“We are thrilled to announce the FDA’s first incentive prize competition under the America COMPETES Act,” said Michael Taylor, the FDA’s 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.”
While the American food supply is among the safest in the world, an estimated 1 in 6 Americans is sickened by foodborne illness annually, resulting in about 3,000 deaths, according to the CDC. Salmonella is the leading cause of deaths and of hospitalizations related to foodborne illness, estimated to cause 380 deaths and 19,000 hospitalizations in the United States each year.
Up to five submitters will be selected to advance as finalists. Finalists will be awarded $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.
Proposals must be submitted by November 9, 2014.