Scientists from Mars Incorporated and IBM Research in the USA have announced a collaborative food safety initiative, the Consortium for Sequencing the Food Supply Chain, with the aim of using new genomic techniques to understand food safety at a molecular level.
The consortium plans to undertake the largest ever metagenomics study of microorganisms in a food factory environment to help understand the factors that influence their growth and survival. The first step will be to investigate the genetic characteristics of bacteria and fungi and their growth in different food production environments. Microbial interactions will also be studied with a view to improving food safety management.
The research will focus on specific raw materials and factory environments initially, using samples taken from Mars-owned production facilities, but will eventually be extended to other steps in the food supply chain and will include applications for primary production. The consortium will also be recruiting other members from academia, industry and government.
Commenting on the launch, Mars Inc. Vice President, Corporate Research and Development, Dave Crean said, “The Consortium for Sequencing the Food Supply Chain has the potential to revolutionise food safety, providing a powerful tool to identify and address new threats on an unprecedented scale, enabling critical breakthroughs in global food safety.”
More information about the consortium can be found here.