Whole Genome Sequencing: Future of Food Safety

Whole Genome Sequencing: Future of Food Safety

The very food we eat can be deadly. Identifying the bugs that makes us sick is slow and cumbersome, even in the event of an outbreak. Whole genome sequencing is a new technology which, if implemented over current methods, will speed up detection and intervention to stop an outbreak of disease in its tracks.

The Whole Genome Sequencing project is the beginning of the biggest transformation of public health microbiology in decades. This cross governmental project has the potential to revolutionize foodborne disease tracking and result in better protection of the American public from getting sick from the food they eat.

The project gathers every agency responsible for controlling foodborne illness in America to combat Listeria, the third leading cause of death from food poisoning. Each year more than 1,600 people get sick from Listeria, and about 1 in 5 dies. New technology can do more to protect people at higher risk for food poisoning and make food safer for everyone.

The Whole Genome Sequencing project paves the way for replacing the many laboratory methods used today to detect and investigate foodborne illness with a single, fast method in whole genome sequencing. This will cut the time needed to identify and characterize the bugs that make people sick in order to detect and investigate outbreaks.

Peter Gerner-Smidt, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
Cristopher Braden, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
Cheryl L. Tarr, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
Peter Evans, Food and Drug Administration
William Klimke, National Institutes of Health
Kristin Holt, U.S. Department of Agriculture
Kristy Kubota, Association for Public Health Laboratories 
Bobbie Witczak, Food and Drug Administration


Recipe for food safety: CDC Vital Signs 
CDC PulseNet
FDA Whole Genome Sequencing Program


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