How safe is your food?

A major national investigation into food safety in America, conducted by student journalists from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and four other universities participating in the national Carnegie-Knight News21 program, is getting prominent play in The Washington Post, and

News21 Fellows Andrew Mach, Rachel Albin, Teresa Lostroh and Kyle Bruggeman

Rachel Albin, Kyle Bruggeman, Teresa Lostroh and Andrew Mach were among 27 News21 Fellows who collaborated to produce the project, which examines food safety issues through in-depth stories, photos, video, graphics and interactive data bases. The Carnegie Corporation of New York and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation fund the News21 program.

"News21 proves that top journalism schools and top teachers can produce journalism as good as any in America today," said Eric Newton, senior adviser to the president of the Knight Foundation. "News leaders and major news organizations agree—because they use News21's journalism."

The stories being published by The Washington Post detail the widespread incidence and many causes of foodborne illness in the U.S. and show how a combination of industry practices and gaps in government oversight leaves consumers vulnerable. Earlier this year, the Post published two breaking news stories from the News21 national project about food safety at farmers' markets and a corporate challenge to the way federal and state governments investigate foodborne illness outbreaks.

Among the News21 stories featured on are an examination of the dangers posed by seafood and how hundreds of millions of pounds of contaminated meat is approved for sale in the U.S.

The stories on feature the key findings of the food safety investigation.

The project also appears on the websites of News21 and the Washington-based Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit investigative journalism organization.

News21 students researched food safety issues in a spring semester seminar. Albin, Bruggeman, Lostroh and Mach spent 10 weeks this summer reporting and producing their projects, working out of the newsrooms at Maryland and Arizona State University.

Leonard Downie Jr., who worked with students at both universities throughout the summer, said he was impressed with the student's work. "They did a lot of very important original reporting, showed a great deal of initiative and accepted criticism from professional journalists," he said.

The News21 program is headquartered at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Downie is the Cronkite School's Weil Family Professor of Journalism and former executive editor of The Washington Post.

The Carnegie Corporation of New York and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation promote in-depth, interactive and innovative investigative journalism at journalism schools across the country. Carnegie and Knight recently renewed their commitment to News21 with a $2.32 million in grants over the next 10 years. The next generation of the program will be modeled after the past two year's multi-university investigative projects and will be open to students from any accredited journalism school in the U.S.

About the Carnegie Corporation of New York
Carnegie Corporation of New York, which was established by Andrew Carnegie in 1911 "to promote the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding," is one of the oldest, largest and most influential of American grantmaking foundations. The foundation makes grants to promote international peace and to advance education and knowledge. For more information, visit:

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit

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About The Center for Public Integrity
The Center for Public Integrity is one of the country's oldest and largest nonpartisan, nonprofit investigative news organizations. Its mission is to reveal abuses of power, corruption and dereliction of duty by powerful public and private institutions in order to cause them to operate with honesty, integrity, accountability and to put the public interest first.