The U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded $5 million to 18 colleges and universities to set up a Food Safety Research and Response Network. Headed by North Carolina State University, the network will have 50 food safety experts studying E. coli, salmonella, campylobacter and other pathogens. Researchers will focus on where in the environment they are found and how they infect herds.

Among the universities included in the project are the University of California campuses at Berkeley and Davis, says the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin. The group also will serve as a response team to help control major episodes of food-related illnesses, such as agricultural bioterrorism.

The government also announced it will spend an additional $2 million on research into mad cow disease.