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A research team from Auburn University has received $20,000 and is one of five finalists for additional funding through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Food Safety Challenge, a contest launched to develop innovative technologies to accelerate the detection of salmonella in fresh produce.

The Auburn team has proposed a detection method that combines magnetoelastic biosensors and a surface-scanning detector, a handheld device that can be passed over food to determine if its surface is contaminated. The biosensors are coated with bacteriophages or phages which are capable of detecting specific types of bacteria.

Finalists will have the opportunity to work with FDA experts to refine and further strengthen their concepts. On July 7, teams will present their final proposals to a panel of judges at the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition headquarters in College Park, Maryland. The winner will share the remainder of a $500,000 total prize.