How USDA's Food Safety Programs Help Keep Consumers Safe

Roughly 1 in 6 Americans gets sick from foodborne illnesses each year. Here's how USDA's NIFA programs aim to mitigate that.

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Do you remember the last time you got sick from eating something that “didn’t agree with you?” It’s likely you or someone you know has experienced food poisoning. It’s not fun!

Unfortunately, the health impact of foodborne illnesses in the United States is considerable. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that each year, roughly 1 in 6 Americans (48 million people) gets sick; 128,000 are hospitalized; and 3,000 die of foodborne illnesses.

Usda NifaUSDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) seeks to reduce the incidence of foodborne illness and provide a safer food supply by supporting research, education, and extension activities addressing current food safety priorities. NIFA supports food safety programs that improve the safety and quality of the U.S. food supply for a healthy population and improved quality of life. Here’s how NIFA is helping to keep American consumers safe:

  • NIFA’s Food Safety Outreach Competitive Grant Program provides funding for food safety training and education for small and mid-sized producers and processors affected by the Food Safety Modernization Act. Community Outreach Projects support the development of new food safety education and outreach programs in local, hard-to-reach communities.
  • Food Safety Research, Education and Extension investments are made through the Agriculture and Food Safety Research Initiative (AFRI). AFRI is the nation’s leading competitive grants program for agricultural sciences. NIFA awards AFRI research, education, and extension grants to improve rural economies, increase food production, stimulate the bioeconomy, mitigate impacts of climate variability, address water availability issues, ensure food safety and security, enhance human nutrition, and train the next generation of the agricultural workforce.
  • NIFA is funding research on Antimicrobial Resistance under the AFRI program. This is especially important because the use and misuse of antimicrobial drugs has been linked to accelerating the emergence of drug-resistant strains of microbes.
  • NIFA enhances networking through the Food Safety Specialist Directory to facilitate communication among food safety professionals. You can use this directory to find contact information by state for food safety and nutrition education partners.

In FY20, NIFA invested a total of $40 million in food safety grants and programs. For more information on NIFA’s food safety programs and partnerships, visit

NIFA will continue focusing on food safety programs by supporting multiple themes outlined in the USDA Science Blueprint (PDF, 2.6 MB), which move us closer to meeting the goals outlined in USDA’s Agriculture Innovation Agenda (PDF, 196 KB).

This blog was originally posted by the USDA here.

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