WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture said this week it will spend nearly $5.5 million over the next three years to study ways to prevent E. coli contamination in fresh produce. “This research will help producers identify the sources of E. coli O157:H7 and ways to avoid contamination,” said Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns, in a statement. “Developing new research and prevention tactics for the grower will contribute to assuring produce safety for consumers.” USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) are providing the funding to ARS researcher Rob Mandrell and his collaborators at the University of California to continue their research in the Central Valley of California. Over the next three years ARS will contribute $5 million, and CSREES will contribute $470,999. In 2006, CSREES awarded Mandrell and colleague Robert Atwill at University of California-Davis $1.2 million to do research in the Salinas Valley.
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