Food Science and Nutrition


Contact Dr. Jodi Williams, NPL for SBIR Food Science and Nutrition at or (202) 720-6145 regarding questions about the topic area or to arrange a telephone consultation.


The Food Science and Nutrition topic area aims to fund projects that support research focusing on developing new and improved processes, technologies, or services that address emerging food safety, food processing and nutrition issues. The program will fund projects to: 1) increase the understanding of the physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of food; 2) improve methods for the processing and packaging of food products to improve the quality and nutritional value of foods; and 3) develop programs or products that increase the consumption of healthy foods and reduce childhood obesity. The outcome of a successful project is a proof of concept for a marketable item or patented process.

The long term goals (10 years) of the program are to commercialize the production of useful new food products, processes, materials, and systems that reduce food-borne illness, obesity and enhance the nutritional quality and value of foods. This topic area supports the NIFA Strategic Plan Goal 1 Science: Catalyze exemplary and relevant research, education and extension programs; SUB-GOAL 1.1: Advance our Nation’s ability to achieve global food security and fight hunger; SUB-GOAL 1.5: Combat childhood obesity by ensuring the availability of affordable, nutritious food and providing individuals and families science-based nutritional guidance; and SUB-GOAL 1.6: Reduce the incidence of food-borne illness and provide a safer food supply.

FY 2018 Research Priorities:

Examples of appropriate subtopics for research applications from small businesses include, but are not limited to, the following:

1. Food Safety

Developing technologies for the rapid detection of food borne hazards (microorganisms, chemicals, toxins) during pre- and post-harvest processing and distribution.

2. Food Quality-Engineering

Developing innovative food processing and packaging technologies and materials that reduce post- harvest losses in produce while maintaining safety and quality.

3. Food Quality-Science

Understanding the physical, biological, and chemical interactions and functionality of food in order to develop affordable food ingredients and/or food formulations that contribute to the development of high quality foods.

4. Nutrition-Education

Developing and implementing interactive programs for nutrition educators and teachers to increase nutrition awareness and improve health to address obesity among children.

5. Nutrition-Science

Improve functionality and efficacy of foods, nutrients and/or dietary bioactive components in promoting health.

6. Nutrition, Food Safety and Quality Data Tools

Development of software tools and technologies that collect and analyze nutrient data, food safety and food quality data.

Other Key Information

The applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the NPL regarding the suitability of research topics.


  • Improvements of current commercial methods should address high false positive and high false negative rates associated with PCR based methods for detection of food borne pathogens in produce and high false negative rates associated with immunoassays for detection of Salmonella.
  • If proposing a new rapid bacterial detection test, the test should be designed to detect at least 1 colony forming unit (cfu)/25grams of food using approaches that reduce or eliminate enrichment and should be designed to allow for sampling of large volumes of food.
  • Projects that promote value-added products and processes are encouraged.
  • Projects that address functional foods to promote health are encouraged.
  • Projects on novel screening methods for threat agents need strong letters of support from the appropriate Federal agency that will be the end user of the technology.
  • Projects that focus on technologies for improving cost benefit and model-based analyses, including distribution, warehousing, and retailing systems as they relate to the economy are acceptable.
  • Applicants who have received previous SBIR funding should address outcomes for those projects.
  • Projects should include appropriate collaborations with experts in the field of investigation (i.e, a Food Scientist or Nutritionist as a part of the development team for the project).

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