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Fera’s new test to detect source of bacterial contamination in foods

FBR Staff Writer Published 29 July 2016

Fera Science has rolled out a new service for food manufacturers to detect bacterial contamination, as food safety plays a key role in influencing consumer behaviour.

Product recalls due to contamination issues are expected to have a profound impact on consumer behaviour toward brands.

To address the issue, Fera has launched a new process OriGen, which uses Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) to identify the source and trace the route of bacterial contamination.

OriGen will enable food manufacturers to identify the cause of the problem and ensure it is dealt with properly.

According to a study by the insurance firm Lockton, the number of food recalls by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) went up by 78% in 2015 compared the previous year.

A recall involves huge cost, reputational damage and the expenses to clean and sanitise machines and production lines in the factory.

Fera’s new service is aimed at preventing the recurrence of the problem, by taking samples from across the product supply and processing chain to find the exact source of a contamination.

Fera microbiology head Andrew Hudson said: “Food manufacturers know how expensive a recall can be, and how much damage a contaminated product batch can do to their reputation.

“With OriGen they’ll have the assurance that they are doing everything they can to find the root cause of the issue – and the confidence that they won’t have to see another costly recall due to the same product.”

Fera’s new test is claimed to trace the source of three major foodborne bacteria in the UK, Salmonella, Listeria and Campylobacter.

The company is also making available a test for pathogenic E.coli due to the recent outbreaks and demand from the industry.

Hudson said: “WGS allows for a new level of precision in dealing with bacteria entering the food supply chain, dramatically increasing the chances of minimising future contamination from the same source.”