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New Test Can Rapidly Pinpoint Sources Of Food Contamination

October 25, 2011: 12:00 AM EST
U.S. scientists have developed a technology that allows government agencies and food companies to pinpoint the exact nature and origin of food-borne bacteria with unprecedented accuracy. In the standard method of tracing food-borne illness, the DNA of bacteria samples is broken into smaller pieces and the banding patterns are analyzed. The method is flawed because different strains of bacteria have common DNA fingerprints that are genetically similar. The new technology – dubbed the single nucleotide polymorphism test – involves sequencing the genome of the bacteria. The researchers are able to rapidly discriminate between outbreak-related cases and non-outbreak related cases, and can isolate samples connected to contamination.
Henk C. den Bakker et al., "A whole genome SNP based approach to trace and identify outbreaks linked to a common Salmonella enterica subsp. enterica serovar Montevideo Pulsed Field Gel Electrophoresis type", Applied and Environmental Microbiology, October 25, 2011, © American Society for Microbiology
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