IBM and Mars partner to drive advances in global food safety
Scientists from IBM Research and Mars are to work together to establish a food safety platform that will leverage advances in genomics to further understanding of what makes food safe.
In the US alone, one in six people are affected by food-borne diseases each year, resulting in 128,000 hospitalizations, 3,000 deaths, and $9 billion in medical costs. Another $75 billion worth of contaminated food is recalled and discarded annually.
“The Consortium for Sequencing the Food Supply Chain has the potential to revolutionize food safety, providing a powerful tool to identify and address new threats on an unprecedented scale, enabling critical breakthroughs in global food safety,” said Dave Crean, vp, corporate research and development, Mars, Inc.
The consortium will conduct the largest-ever metagenomics study to categorize and understand micro-organisms and the factors that influence their activity in a normal, safe factory environment. This work, they say, could be extended into the larger context of the food supply chain -- from farm to fork -- and lead to new insights into how microorganisms interact within a factory ecology and be better controlled by new data and science-driven practices.
As a first step, the consortium’s scientists will investigate the genetic fingerprints of living organisms such as bacteria, fungi, or viruses and how they grow in different environments, including countertops, factories, and raw materials. This data will be used to further investigate how bacteria interact, which could result in new ways to view supply chain food safety management.
Picture credit: © RoyaltyStockPhoto | Dreamstime.com - Gram-negative Rod-shaped Bacteria Photo