Contact: Aja Sae-Kung
NOAA News Releases 2005
NOAA Home Page
NOAA Public Affairs

Grant Supports New Irradiation Treatment

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced a $1,302,000 grant to the University of Southern Mississippi to fund the Gulf of Mexico Marine Oyster Industry Program.

The grant will support research to determine the integrity of using high intensity X-ray irradiation as a means of treating shell stock oysters to eliminate Vibrio pathogens. Due to the presence of these naturally occurring pathogens, raw oysters have the potential to cause human illness. High intensity food grade X-ray irradiators have the capability of eliminating pathogens and spoilage bacteria by using a safe, low cost application of X-ray. This method of irradiation processing has been approved for a variety of food products including chicken, pork and beef. It is currently on the Congressional agenda for approval for seafood products, including oysters. The use of X-ray processing has the potential to reduce the risk of Vibrio infection and extend the shelf life of live oysters.

“This new technology could prove to be a huge step in eliminating shellfish borne-diseases,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “This NOAA grant to the University of Southern Mississippi supports NOAA’s mission by ensuring economic stability in our coastal areas.”

The Gulf Oyster Industry Program was created in 1999 as a result of efforts by the Gulf Oyster Industry Council, a cross-section of Gulf oyster industry leaders, state resource managers and academic researchers. It is headed by researchers at the University of Southern Mississippi. The goal of the GOIP is to encourage multi-disciplinary research and extension projects that contribute directly to the efficiency and profitability of oyster-related businesses and to the safety of oyster products.

Each year, NOAA awards approximately $900 million in grants to members of the academic, scientific, education and business communities to assist the agency in fulfilling its mission to study the Earth’s natural systems in order to predict environmental change, manage ocean resources, protect life and property and provide decision makers with reliable scientific information. NOAA goals and programs reflect a commitment to these basic responsibilities of science and service to the nation for the past 35 years.

NOAA, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources.

On the Web: