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New Device Detects Food-Borne Pathogens Through DNA

December 9, 2019

With one in six Americans sickened by food-borne pathogens each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), workers in commercial kitchens and other facilities that handle food have a responsibility to ensure the meals they’re serving are safe. A new pocket-sized device that sequences DNA from food can identify pathogens within hours and result in quicker recalls, The Wire reports.

Current genome sequencing technologies can take several days to extract DNA, grow a culture, then analyze the culture for germs. In this time, contaminated food can travel from distributors and stores to homes and facilities. A recent study using the new DNA sequencer found it took 6.5 hours to determine if food was contaminated, from the first step to the final analysis. Another study found the device was able to sequence the entire genome of a salmonella strain within 10 hours.

Although results of studies testing the new DNA sequencer show promise, food safety authorities say it will take time to phase out current technologies and implement the training needed for these devices to become standard procedure for food pathogen surveillance.

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