ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Dec. 19, 2013) -- A team of researchers from the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center received the United States Department of Agriculture Secretary's Honor Award at the 65th Annual Secretary Honor Awards Ceremony. The team was recognized for partnering with the USDA to conduct critical chemical threat agent research to ensure that the nation's food supply is safe and reliable.

Led by principal investigators Drs. Sue Bae and Mark Winemiller, from the Agent Chemistry Branch, the ECBC team made significant contributions to meeting a USDA goal to protect public health by ensuring food is safe.

In order to protect public health and ensure food safety, the USDA must be able identify and ensure it can respond to new and emerging sources of food contamination. The USDA lacked the capabilities and facilities to conduct the critically needed research that would ensure its mission was accomplished.

As a result, the USDA contacted ECBC, which committed to forging a partnership with the USDA. ECBC's expertise and infrastructure to work with traditional and non-traditional chemical threat agents helped USDA meet their mission-critical needs.

ECBC has also played a significant role in ensuring the USDA met its initiative to enhance USDA homeland security and emergency preparedness. In the event of an attack against the food supply, ECBC's efforts have enabled USDA to understand the concentrations of these chemical threat agents that will result in adverse health effects. This will ensure that USDA has the ability to determine what food in commerce is safe, and to make sure that safe food will continue to be supplied and available to feed Americans and the world.

Through its Memorandum of Agreement with USDA, ECBC will continue to provide support to USDA in the event of an intentional food contamination event involving chemical threat agents.

Thomas J. Vilsack, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, and Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Krysta Harden, presented the award to the team at the 11 December ceremony, which was held in Washington, D.C. The Secretary's Honor Award is a prestigious honor awarded by the Secretary of Agriculture each year. The award is open to all 26 agencies of the USDA. Undersecretary for Food Safety, Dr. Elisabeth Hagen, nominated ECBC for the award.

The ECBC team supporting this effort consists of: Dr. Frederic Berg, Dr. Mark Winemiller, Dr. Sue Bae, Dr. David Tevault, Dr. Joseph Corriveau, Dr. James Manthei, Jeffry Forster, Ruth Moretz, Carl Phillips, Bernadita Gaviola, Brian MacIver, Juan Cajigas, Michael Sheely, Fu-Lian Hsu, Leslie McMahon, and Dr. Bruce King.


ECBC is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to develop technology and engineering solutions for America's Soldiers.

RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command. AMC is the Army's premier provider of materiel readiness -- technology, acquisition support, materiel development, logistics power projection, and sustainment -- to the total force, across the spectrum of joint military operations. If a Soldier shoots it, drives it, flies it, wears it, eats it or communicates with it, AMC provides it.