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Center of Excellence and Seafood Safety Lab Dedicated at Delaware State University
DOVER, Del., June 2—Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman today dedicated a new Center of Excellence and a U.S. Department of Agriculture seafood safety lab at Delaware State University, an 1890 historically African-American land grant university.
Centers of Excellence are partnerships between 1890s schools and USDA to carry out complementary research on agricultural problems of regional and national interest and enhance research facilities at these schools. Delaware State University has an extensive program in aquaculture, and the new center will carry the title of Microbial Safety of Aquaculture Products Center of Excellence.
The new lab, which is part of USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS), will focus on microbiological food safety issues of aquaculture products, in particular developing faster, more efficient tests to detect disease-causing viruses and bacteria in clams, mussels and oysters.
“USDA, Delaware State University and the public will benefit from this new partnership,” said Glickman. “Delaware State University and USDA will be able to pool scientific expertise and resources in aquaculture research, students will gain the chance to have hands-on experience in a state-of-the-art laboratory, and the public will have safer food.”
The opening of this Center of Excellence brings USDA’s total to 15, seven of which are partnerships between ARS and 1890s colleges and universities. In addition to Delaware State University, ARS has Center of Excellence partnerships with Tennessee State University, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore, Langston University in Oklahoma, Florida A&M University, and Alcorn State University in Mississippi.
Seafood safety is an important area of research for USDA. As coastal populations continue to grow, there is increasing concern over the quality of coastal waters and the safety of molluscan shellfish inhabiting those waters.
“Improved methods will make it easier to track disease outbreaks as well as the environmental factors and pollutants that can lead to disease problems,” said ARS Administrator Floyd Horn.
The laboratory is a field location of the Microbial Food Safety Research Unit at the ARS Eastern Regional Research Center in Wyndmoor, Pa., and is headed by ARS microbiologist Gary P. Richards.