Food pathogen genome database expected to improve response to foodborne illnesses

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted July 30, 2012

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In an effort to help health officials more quickly identify bacteria responsible for foodborne outbreaks, a public database of foodborne pathogen genomes is being developed by the Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, University of California, Davis and Agilent Technologies.

The collaboration will be a five-year effort to sequence the genetic code of about 100,000 foodborne pathogens and make the information available in a free, public database. The sequencing will include the genomes of pathogens such as E. coli, Listeria and Salmonella, the FDA said.

When completed, the database is expected to speed up testing of raw ingredients, finished products and environmental samples taken during investigations of foodborne illnesses (link).

Each year, one in six Americans (48 million people) becomes sick from consuming a contaminated food or beverage; about 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases, the CDC said.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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