[Federal Register: April 20, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 75)]
[Notices]               
[Page 20517-20521]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr20ap05-27]                         

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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Food Safety and Inspection Service

[Docket No. 05-004N]

 
Notice of Funding Opportunities With the Food Safety and 
Inspection Service for Food Safety Cooperative Agreements for Fiscal 
Year 2005

AGENCY: Food Safety and Inspection Service.

ACTION: Notice of funding opportunities for fiscal year 2005.

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SUMMARY: The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is soliciting 
proposals for cooperative agreement projects to be funded in fiscal 
year 2005. Proposals should be made in one or more of the cooperative 
agreement program areas described in this notice.

DATES: Proposals must be submitted by June 20, 2005.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    FSIS continuously seeks new ideas and strategies to reduce the 
incidence of foodborne illnesses associated with meat, poultry, and egg 
products and protect the food supply. Agency innovations, notably those 
associated with the implementation of Hazard Analysis and Critical 
Control Point (HACCP) systems, have helped reduce foodborne illnesses 
in recent years. FSIS seeks to achieve additional reductions in 
foodborne illnesses, and to enhance food security, through further 
improvements in FSIS operations and

[[Page 20518]]

through joint efforts with partner agencies and organizations.
    To achieve this goal, FSIS is authorized to use cooperative 
agreements to reflect a relationship between FSIS and other Federal 
agencies, States, or cooperators to carry out educational programs or 
special studies to improve the safety of the nation's food supply (Pub. 
L. 108-7, sec. 713, 117 Stat. 39). Also, FSIS has been directed to 
further develop the Food Emergency Response Network, a network of 
Federal, State and local laboratories that provides the nation the 
analytic capabilities and capacity it needs to cope with agents 
threatening the food supply (Pub. L. 108-447; H.R. Conf. Rpt. 108-792).
    Risk analyses have shown that the safety of food is affected by 
hazards throughout the farm-to-table continuum. FSIS alone does not 
have the resources to address and ameliorate all hazards. FSIS seeks 
partners to assist in the development of materials that will have a 
national impact on public health. In keeping with its July 2004 
strategy paper ``Fulfilling the Vision, Initiatives in Protecting 
Public Health,'' FSIS will engage in cooperative projects that will 
achieve measurable enhancement of the Nation's public health through 
food safety.
    With the goal of making demonstrable improvements in public health 
through further science-based reductions in the incidence of foodborne 
disease and hazards associated with meat, poultry, and egg products, 
and to enhance food defenses through improved State and local 
government laboratory participation in the Food Emergency Response 
Network, FSIS will fund cooperative agreements in the following areas:
    1. Food animal production, transportation, and marketing. Projects 
would develop and implement producer education programs that promote 
the use of best practices and interventions that reduce the potential 
for pathogens and other hazards borne by livestock and poultry to be 
introduced into meat, poultry, and egg products produced from those 
animals. An example would be a project to develop practical methods for 
controlling Salmonella or pathogenic E. coli on the farm to decrease 
the prevalence of those bacteria at slaughter.
    2. Small and very small inspected meat, poultry, or egg product 
establishments. Projects would assist small plants (fewer than 500 
employees) and very small plants (10 or fewer employees, or less than 
$2.5 million in annual sales), which often have limited technical and 
financial resources with which to comply fully with Federal inspection 
requirements. FSIS seeks to develop food safety training and 
educational programs and materials to reflect the needs of diverse 
customers and constituents with specific food safety concerns. The 
Nation's diverse population is reflected in its diverse food industry, 
which presents challenges for regulatory authorities, who must 
communicate effectively with them on a range of food safety issues. 
Projects would equip FSIS and its food safety partners to better 
overcome language and cultural barriers in delivering essential food 
safety messages to these firms. Projects would help FSIS and state meat 
and poultry inspection program officials identify and address food 
safety and public health concerns associated with particular geographic 
regions or specific minority populations. FSIS is seeking to develop 
new and innovative materials that cover topics such as Listeria 
monocytogenes in ready-to-eat meat and poultry products, validation of 
pathogen controls in small plants, assessing the effectiveness of food 
safety systems, and building on lessons learned from HACCP systems.
    3. Retail stores, food service establishments, and other 
inspection-exempt small businesses processing or handling meat, 
poultry, and egg products. Projects would assist State and local 
agencies to promote, and food businesses under their jurisdiction to 
adopt, appropriate controls and interventions to ensure that 
inspection-exempt meat and poultry products being produced are safe and 
wholesome and that inspected meat and poultry products being handled 
and prepared remain safe and wholesome for consumers. Projects may 
address State and local retail inspectors' needs for tools to ensure 
the safety of meat and poultry processed or handled at retail, reducing 
the potential for Listeria monocytogenes contamination of ready-to-eat 
meat and poultry products, and ways to leverage current Federal, State, 
and local food safety activities to more effectively protect consumers.
    4. Applications of new technologies that will permit small and very 
small meat, poultry, and egg product establishments to produce safer 
products. Projects would assist small and very small plants to adapt 
and use new technologies, including interventions, processes, and 
systems, to enhance product safety.
    5. Enhancement of laboratory testing capability of the Food 
Emergency Response Network for microbiological threat agents. 
Cooperative agreements will develop programs to assist State and local 
laboratories to augment microbiological threat agent testing capacities 
and increase the number of member laboratories that are able to perform 
threat agent testing for the network. The agreements will enhance 
laboratories' ability to analyze for microbiological threat agents 
using FERN methods and improve laboratory capacities for surveillance 
and outbreak response. The agreements will support training in FERN 
threat agent methods and the purchase of supplies and equipment 
required by the methods. After training and demonstration of 
proficiency, laboratories will participate in validation studies with 
various food matrices as well as surveillance activities sponsored by 
FERN.
    FSIS expects to allocate approximately $2,500,000 to fund 
cooperative agreements in these areas this fiscal year. The approximate 
amount available for each area, and the range in dollars for proposed 
cooperative projects, is provided below. Academic institutions; State, 
local and tribal government agencies; and non-profit organizations are 
invited to submit brief proposals (one to two pages) for cooperative 
agreements in any of the areas described. These proposals will be 
reviewed by FSIS. If reviewers find that the proposals would further 
the food safety and public health goals of FSIS, are applicable 
nationwide to targeted audiences, can be reproduced and disseminated, 
and reflect new materials or approaches, submitters will be invited to 
further develop the proposals for consideration as cooperative 
agreements with FSIS, as funding is available.
    Proposals are due June 20, 2005. FSIS will review and respond to 
proposals by August 3, 2005. Unlike typical Federal grants, cooperative 
agreements involve a Federal agency's active participation with the 
cooperator during both project development and project execution. Work 
products are intended to be available for public use nationwide. The 
criteria used by FSIS to assess proposals are listed for each 
cooperative agreement program area. Cooperators whose proposals are 
selected for further project development will need to discuss and reach 
agreement with FSIS on project details to permit establishment of a 
cooperative agreement no later than July 30, 2005.
    All proposals should address the following points:
     Project description, including specific goals, timeline, 
and deliverables
     Description of national public benefit expected, including 
expected utility of work products, for example, training manuals, CDs, 
and videos

[[Page 20519]]

     Projected costs, including cooperator contributions
     Projected performance measures
     Primary contact, principal investigator, and other likely 
participants, and
     Public domain; work products may be freely reproduced and 
distributed by FSIS.
    Multi-year projects will be considered, but they are subject to 
annual renewal and may be affected by changes in FSIS' annual budget. 
The number of projects funded each year is determined by the number of 
proposals received, the extent to which they will further the food 
safety and public health goals of the Agency, the performance of 
ongoing projects, and funding availability.
    Proposals are being solicited for fiscal year 2005 for the 
following five cooperative agreement program areas:
    1. Food animal production, transportation, and marketing 
Description: Cooperative agreements will support State-level 
partnerships to bring together food animal producers, veterinarians, 
Extension specialists, State and Federal animal health officials, and 
State and Federal public health officials to provide information and 
education to food animal producers. Partnerships will develop and 
distribute to producers educational materials that strengthen food 
safety through adoption of animal production practices that support 
pathogen reduction and residue avoidance in food animals. State food 
safety partnerships will provide a continuing non-regulatory 
infrastructure for information sharing among all levels of government 
and the food animal industries and will enhance and recognize Quality 
Assurance Programs (QAP) as a basic element of pre-harvest food safety.
    Funding Level: The total level for fiscal year 2005 is 
approximately $500,000. Agreements usually will not exceed $50,000.
    Evaluation Criteria: Proposals for funding will be ranked in 
consideration of certain factors. They are, in order of significance:
     Proposal's feasibility and relevance to pre-harvest food 
safety
     Participation by State animal health or public health 
officials
     Participation by food animal industry leaders
     Special animal health or food safety needs of industry
     Demonstrated ability to develop and deliver to producers 
information on food safety awareness and safe production practices
     Food animal population affected
     Cooperator's past performance in animal and egg production 
food safety cooperative agreements, and
     Geographic distribution of States (need for national 
presence).
    Submit Proposals to: john.ragan@fsis.usda. Although electronic 
submissions are encouraged, proposals also may be mailed to John R. 
Ragan, D.V.M., Animal and Egg Production Food Safety Staff, Zoonotic 
Diseases and Residue Surveillance Division, Office of Public Health 
Science, FSIS, USDA, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Room 343 Aerospace 
Building, Washington, DC 20250-3700.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: John R. Ragan, D.V.M., (202) 690-1277, 
or Sibyl Wright, (202) 720-4923, sibyl.wright@fsis.usda.gov, of the 
Animal and Egg Production Food Safety Staff.
    2. Small and very small inspected meat, poultry or egg product 
establishments.
    Description: Cooperative agreements will provide outreach to 
constituencies involved in FSIS-regulated activities, principally small 
and very small establishments and establishments in tribal and other 
underserved areas. Projects support training, education, and outreach 
that will promote more effective use of HACCP systems, appropriate 
responses to emerging food safety and food security concerns, 
understanding of the latest information on foodborne illness and 
hazards, availability of new procedures and technologies for hazard 
avoidance and mitigation, and security guidance.
    Funding Level: The total level is approximately $250,000. 
Agreements typically range from $10,000 to $30,000. Larger amounts may 
be considered for compelling projects.
    Evaluation Criteria: Proposals for funding will be ranked in 
consideration of certain factors. They are, in order of significance:
     Responds to the needs of small and very small plants
     Provides for measurable, documented results
     Provides a degree of innovation
     Assists small and very small plants to maintain effective 
HACCP systems, produce safe products, and otherwise comply with Federal 
regulations
     Provides a deliverable product that can be easily shared 
and is applicable to a wide audience. For example, the project will 
result in information or materials and be presented in a format that 
can be used by FSIS and its partners to improve food safety and impact 
public health, and
     Cooperator agrees to contribute significant resources to 
the project.
    Submit Proposals to: kathleen.barrett@fsis.usda.gov. Although 
electronic submission is encouraged, proposals also may be mailed to 
Kathleen Barrett at Strategic Initiatives, Partnerships and Outreach 
Staff, FSIS, USDA, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Room 405 Aerospace 
Building, Washington, DC 20250.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kathleen Barrett, Strategic 
Initiatives, Partnerships and Outreach Staff, at (202) 690-6644.
    3. Retail stores, food service establishments, and other 
inspection-exempt small businesses processing or handling meat, 
poultry, and egg products.
    Description: Projects will promote adoption of practices by small 
businesses, in particular retail and food service establishments, to 
reduce or eliminate food safety hazards to foods under their control. 
Projects are typically aimed at enhancing State, local, or tribal 
government food protection agencies' outreach capabilities and ability 
to make measurable improvements in food safety in support of FSIS' 
national public health mission and goals.
    Funding Level: The total level is $250,000. Agreements typically 
range from $20,000 to $50,000. Larger amounts may be considered for 
compelling projects.
    Evaluation Criteria: Proposals for funding will be ranked in 
consideration of certain factors. They are, in order of significance:
     Contributes to adoption by firms producing or handling 
meat, poultry, and egg products of the best available practices for 
controlling food safety hazards in their commercial environment.
     Provides State and local food inspectors tools for 
ensuring the safety of meat and poultry processed or handled at retail.
     Leverages current Federal, State, and local food safety 
activities to more effectively protect consumers.
     Provides a degree of innovation.
     Provides a deliverable product that is transferable; that 
is, the project will result in information or materials useful for food 
safety in other jurisdictions.
     Responds to needs of underserved areas or populations.
     Involves collaboration among interested entities; that is, 
the project involves industry, academia, Extension, and consumer groups 
as well as government agencies (involvement of a state food safety task 
force is desirable).

[[Page 20520]]

     Cooperator agrees to contribute significant resources to 
the project.
     Reduces the potential for product contamination, in 
particular, Listeria contamination of ready to eat foods.
    Submit Proposals to: ralph.stafko@fsis.usda.gov. Although 
electronic submissions are encouraged, proposals also may be mailed to 
Ralph Stafko, Strategic Initiatives, Partnerships, and Outreach Staff, 
FSIS, USDA, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., 405 Aerospace Building, 
Washington, DC 20250.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ralph Stafko, Strategic Initiatives, 
Partnership, and Outreach Staff, at (202) 690-6520.
    4. New Technology that will permit small and very small meat, 
poultry and egg product establishments to produce safer products.
    Description: Cooperative agreements will promote new technologies 
or new adaptations of technologies, including interventions, processes, 
or systems, that will enhance the ability of small and very small 
plants to produce safe and wholesome meat, poultry, and egg products.
    Funding Level: The total is approximately $500,000. Agreements will 
range from $25,000 to $75,000. Larger contract proposal amounts may be 
considered for certain projects that address FSIS food safety 
priorities.
    Evaluation Criteria: Proposals for funding will be ranked in 
consideration of certain factors. They are, in order of significance:
     Helps small and very small plants meet their HACCP and 
food safety requirements.
     Helps small and very small plants to understand how to 
demonstrate that a new technology complies with Federal inspection 
requirements.
     Provides a degree of innovation.
     Applies new research and technologies that address current 
food safety and public health concerns, such as properly handling and 
labeling products that contain ingredients that are known allergens.
     Provides deliverable products that are easily 
transferable, such as videos, training programs, and flow charts. The 
project will result in information or materials useful to small and 
very small plants to improve food safety.
    For example, the subjects of proposals may include:
     Antimicrobial or other kinds of interventions to reduce or 
eliminate E. coli 0157:H7 in ground meat products.
     Listeria monocytogenes post-lethality treatments for 
ready-to-eat products.
     The relationship between the level of Salmonella 
enteritidis in eggs and egg products and the molting of poultry.
     The relationship between the level of Salmonella 
enteritidis and the temperature at which eggs have been held from the 
day of lay until the day of processing.
     Salmonella growth and reduction in shelf-stable ready-to-
eat products.
     Cost-effective mechanisms to determine the temperature of 
products while they are being shipped.
     Allergens, food sensitivities, and intolerances in meat 
and poultry products; development of a training program for small and 
very small plants to help with the reassessment of their HACCP programs 
as they pertain to any ingredient that may be an allergen.
     Inoculation challenge studies on non-thermally processed 
ready-to-eat products; for example, validation studies for dry cured 
chorizo, basturma, prosciutto ham, and pancetta.
     The amount of pathogen growth, such as E. coli O157:H7 and 
Salmonella, on livestock carcasses during the cooling process, and the 
development of easily understood predictive microbial models.
     The minimum chamber relative humidity needed to ensure 
that the moisture level on the product surface is adequate to achieve 
the desired lethality without increasing the heat resistance of 
bacterial pathogens (for example, Salmonella spp.).
     Alternative methods, such as antimicrobial packaging, to 
achieve surface lethality for products that had been exposed to the 
environment after lethality treatment.
    Submit Proposals to: shaukat.syed@fsis.usda.gov. Although 
electronic submissions are encouraged, proposals also may be mailed to 
Shaukat H. Syed, D.V.M., Director, New Technology Staff, FSIS, USDA, 
1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Room 2932, South Building, Washington, 
DC 20250.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Howard L. Early, D.V.M., New 
Technology Staff, at (202) 205-0675.
    5. Enhancement of laboratory testing capability of the Food 
Emergency Response Network for microbiological threat agents.
    Description: The Food Emergency Response Network (FERN) is composed 
of State and local government regulatory laboratories with varying 
capacities to perform the testing of threat agents. Cooperative 
agreements will develop programs to assist State and local laboratories 
to augment microbiological threat agent testing capacities and increase 
the number of member laboratories that are able to perform threat agent 
testing for the network. The agreements will enhance laboratories' 
ability to analyze for microbiological threat agents using FERN methods 
and improve laboratory capacities for surveillance and outbreak 
response. The agreements will support training in FERN threat agent 
methods and the purchase of supplies and equipment required by the 
methods. After training and demonstration of proficiency, laboratories 
will participate in validation studies with various food matrices as 
well as surveillance activities sponsored by FERN.
    Funding Level: The total level is approximately $1,000,000. 
Agreements typically range from $50,000 to $100,000.
    Evaluation Criteria: Proposals for funding will be ranked in 
consideration of certain factors. They are, in order of importance:
     Includes provisions for measurable, documented results 
that may be shared with State and local laboratories, FSIS, or its 
agents.
     Provides information useful for the testing of threat 
agents in food.
     Possesses basic food analytic resources to implement the 
agreement.
     States' willingness to participate in method validation, 
proficiency testing, and surveillance programs.
    Submit Proposals to: Wayne Ziemer, FERN, FSIS, 950 College Station 
Road, Athens, Georgia 30605; telephone (706) 546-3591; facsimile (706) 
546-3518; wayne.ziemer@fsis.usda.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Frankie J. Beacorn, Biological Food 
Security and Emergency Branch, Food Emergency Response Network 
Division, FERN, FSIS, USDA, 950 College Station Road, Athens, Georgia 
30677; telephone (706) 546-3578; facsimile (706) 546-3518; 
frankie.beacorn@fsis.usda.gov.

Additional Public Notification

    Public awareness of all segments of rulemaking and policy 
development is important. Consequently, in an effort to ensure that the 
public and in particular minorities, women, and persons with 
disabilities are aware of this notice, FSIS will announce it on-line 
through the FSIS Web page located at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/regulations/2005_Notices_Index/
.

    FSIS also will make copies of this Federal Register publication 
available through the FSIS Constituent Update, which is used to provide 
information regarding FSIS policies, procedures, regulations, Federal 
Register notices, FSIS public meetings, recalls, and other

[[Page 20521]]

types of information that could affect or would be of interest to 
constituents and stakeholders. The update is communicated via Listserv, 
a free electronic mail subscription service consisting of industry, 
trade, and farm groups, consumer interest groups, allied health 
professionals, scientific professionals, and other individuals who have 
asked to be included. The update is available on the FSIS Web page. 
Through Listserv and the Web page, FSIS is able to provide information 
to a much broader, more diverse audience.
    In addition, FSIS offers an electronic mail subscription service 
that provides an automatic and customized notification when popular 
pages are updated, including Federal Register publications and related 
documents. This service is available at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/news_and_events/email_subscription/
 and allows FSIS customers to sign up 

for subscription options across eight categories. Options range from 
recalls to export information to regulations, directives, and notices.
    Customers can add or delete subscriptions themselves and have the 
option to protect their accounts with passwords.

    Done at Washington, DC, on April 15, 2005.
Barbara J. Masters,
Acting Administrator.
[FR Doc. 05-7955 Filed 4-19-05; 8:45 am]