Dust off your chemistry set. The Food and Drug Administration is offering $500,000 to the best breakthrough idea it receives by Nov. 9 for detecting salmonella on fresh produce.

It is also offering coaching to the five finalists – kind of like “The Voice,” only for science geeks.

The FDA said the contest was developed under a new program that allows federal agencies to offer prize money to “spur innovation, solve tough problems and advance their core missions.”

Salmonella causes about 1.2 million illnesses, 23,000 hospitalizations and 450 deaths every year in the U.S, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

David G. White, research director at the FDA’s Office of Foods and Veterinary Medicine, wrote in an agency blog Tuesday that the agency’s goal is to prevent salmonella contamination “but we need to detect it quickly and efficiently when it is present in order to remove foods from the marketplace.”

The five finalists who will be awarded $20,000 and will be coached by FDA experts to help them develop their ideas before they are presented to the judges.

For rules and details on the 2014 FDA Food Safety Challenge, go to: www.foodsafetychallenge.com.