- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration continues to ramp up its use of whole genome sequencing and DNA evidence when investigating foodborne illness outbreaks, but manufacturers also stand to benefit from the technology.
- The FDA has worked with international laboratories to upload genetic coding for pathogens into a massive, publicly accessible database called GenomeTrakr, which the agency established in late 2012.
- As of March 2016, GenomeTrakr has the sequence information for more than 50,000 strains of bacteria with another 1,000 sequences produced each month, an FDA researcher said in a statement.
Traceability is becoming increasingly important for food safety and transparency. Being able to efficiently identify where an ingredient came from using DNA sequencing allows manufacturers to resolve safety issues more quickly. They can also provide more accurate information to consumers about where a product's ingredients come from.
As manufacturers ready their facilities for FSMA compliance, whole genome sequencing could prove a vital tool in testing whether the preventive and sanitary controls they have in place are effective prior to an FDA inspection. This can help manufacturers better control their investments in new equipment, software, and personnel. This way, they don't needlessly spend on areas that are compliant while overlooking areas that need more work to implement safety and FSMA preventive controls.