Improving Food Safety through DNA

Agilent is helping to create a genomic database of 100,000 types of common foodborne pathogens.  The initiative could reduce food-related illnesses and deaths, trace food poisoning outbreaks more quickly, and even detect food fraud by marketers.

The Genome Trakr Network is a collaboration between Agilent, the University of California, Davis, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.  The technology maps the entire DNA sequence of a microbe, enabling scientists to distinguish one strain from another.  To date, more than 9,900 Salmonella isolates and 2,600 Listeria isolates have been sequenced.  An open-source database will be available online at no charge for researchers and public health officials through the National Center for Biotechnology Information.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, foodborne diseases affect one in six Americans every year, resulting in 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths.  In a recent study by Oceana, one third of seafood samples sold in American from around the world were mislabeled.  Only seven out of 120 red snapper samples were honestly labeled; while 84 percent of white tuna samples were actually escolar, which can cause digestive issues.

Agilent is one of the world’s leading providers of solutions for ensuring food safety and food authenticity.

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