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U. of Nebraska to lead $25 million project targeting E. coli threat
Date:1/23/2012

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln will lead a $25 million project to reduce throughout the beef production chain the occurrence of E. coli strains that pose a major threat to public health.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture announced the grant at UNL on Monday, Jan. 23.

The project targets Shiga-toxin producing E. coli, or STEC, which cause more than 265,000 illnesses in the United States annually. Eating contaminated food or having direct contact with fecal matter from infected cattle and other ruminants cause most of these illnesses.

UNL will lead a team of 48 scientists from 11 land-grant universities and other partner institutions to conduct integrated research, education and extension projects on eight types of STEC. Studies will include the best-known STEC, E. coli O157:H7, along with seven strains that are not as well understood, partly because outbreaks due to these strains are rarely identified.

UNL and Kansas State University -- with 32 scientists -- will conduct most of the research, education and extension work for this project.

"This research has enormous ramifications in Nebraska and across the nation," UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman said. "Beef is big business in the state, and the industry prides itself on delivering a safe product to consumers. This project will help ensure the safety of beef products, through the research conducted at participating institutions, the transfer of this knowledge to collaborators in the beef industry and educational programs for consumers."

The $25 million grant is the largest-ever USDA grant to UNL and one of the single largest grants it's ever received.

"Shiga toxin-producing E. coli are a serious threat to our food supply and public health, causing more than 265,000 infections each year," said Chavonda Jacobs-Young, acting NIFA director. "As non-O157 STEC bacteria have emerge
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Contact: James Keen
jkeen3@unl.edu
402-762-4506
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Source:Eurekalert

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