UAF-led project will study foodborne illnesses in Nigeria

A new federally funded project led by the University of Alaska Fairbanks will study Nigerian households’ vulnerability to foodborne illnesses.

Andrea Bersamin, an associate professor of nutrition at UAF’s Center for Alaska Native Health Research and Institute of Arctic Biology, is leading the study. It will bring together an international multidisciplinary team to understand food safety risks in Nigerian households. Household food safety is a significant economic and public health concern in Nigeria, which has a childhood stunting rate of 33 percent. Exposure to foodborne illness through inappropriate food storage, cross-contamination, and infected food handlers contributes to a cycle of illness and malnutrition and impacts the development and nutritional status of young children.

The two-year, $400,000 project is being funded the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Safety, the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative.

The project will identify facilitators of and barriers to reducing the prevalence of foodborne disease in Nigerian households with young children. Using a community-based approach, the team will identify strategic, feasible activities to mitigate and prevent household foodborne illnesses in partnership with mothers, health care providers, government representatives, and other key stakeholders.

The project will be conducted in partnership with Utah State University and three institutions in Nigeria: Bowen University, Obafemi Awololo University and University of Ibadam.

About Feed the Future: Feed the Future is the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative. With a focus on smallholder farmers, particularly women, Feed the Future supports partner countries in developing their agriculture sectors to spur economic growth and trade that increases incomes and reduces hunger, poverty and undernutrition. For more information, visit