PoultryUSA - October 2017 - 10
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BY RAFAEL RIVERA
tool for food safety
"We built this farm
together. It has been
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Whole genome sequencing has not
only become an essential tool of food
safety and regulatory agencies such as
the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
(FDA), U.S. Department of Agriculture
(USDA) and the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC), the
technology is being used more and
more by food industry professionals to
help manage the processes that ensure
safe food production.
A commonly used deﬁnition for
whole genome sequencing is the
process of using a modern DNA
sequencing platform with the goal of
sequencing the majority of an organism's genome.
While still a new technology, its
fast pace of utility and use in the
food industry has evinced both interest and concern. The U.S. Poultry
& Egg Association (USPOULTRY),
along with many industry groups,
has been coordinating ongoing discussion through various food safety
meetings and symposiums with
the intention of bringing together
experts to educate about whole genome sequencing technology among
food industry professionals.
Government agencies have
routinely used whole genome se-
quencing for various purposes. Most
outbreak investigations, for example,
use pulsed-ﬁeld gel electrophoresis
(PFGE) as their identiﬁcation method. This method of genetic typing
uses enzymes to break the bacterial
DNA into pieces of different lengths.
The pieces of DNA are then separated on a gel, and the different lengths
form different bands on the gel.
PFGE banding patterns tell us how
similar bacteria are to one another.
Whole genome sequencing
In the meantime, over the last
decade, the ability to sequence the
whole genome has become more accurate and cost effective thanks to the
genetic typing method called whole
genome sequencing. Researchers and
public health agencies are beginning
to use the technology for genetic typing of bacteria, including pathogens
relevant to food safety.
While the rules to conduct
foodborne outbreak investigations
are being set, other uses for whole
genome sequencing technology can
be explored. This technology can
also be used to identify microbial
populations within food production
www.WATTAgNet.com ❙ October 2017