(July 8) A new research facility that will focus on postharvest food protection was launched July 7 by Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge and Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman.

Called the Center for Post-Harvest Food Protection and Defense, the University of Minnesota facility will be funded by a $15 million three-year grant, according to a news release from the Department of Homeland Security.

In July 6 remarks at the University of Minnesota, Ridge said the center would research best food security practices and manage and respond to both intentional and naturally occurring food contamination.

Donna Garren, vice president of technical affairs for the United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association, Washington, D.C., said there has been little communication so far between the agencies and the fresh produce industry relative to the new center.

“We would hope they would reach out to us in some fashion,” she said, noting the industry’s willingness to help establish priorities.