Bar codes to battle foodborne diseases

Related tags Dna

Traceability has become a key concern in the meat processing
industry since the BSE outbreak in the UK in the 1990s, and more
recently the discovery of the disease in the US last year. A number
of diagnostic products have been developed to create viable tracing
systems to control any potential outbreak in the future.

Technology company Whatman, for example, has developed bar-coded cards that can be used to collect blood samples from live cattle while moving through production. During the slaughter process and case-ready production, cattle DNA is collected by the Whatman FTA system and then pressed onto the bar-coded cards.

These are then stored in a file cabinet at room temperature for analysis and auditing. Once the product has been packaged for retail sale, the final DNA profile is examined and compared to earlier samples for quality control.

Celentis​, the business arm of AgResearch and a manufacturer of DNA sampling strips used in meat traceability systems, has been widely called upon to provide a method to diagnose and track food scares such as mad cow disease. The firm has adopted the Whatman FTA system as part of its easiTrace meat traceability system.

"Particular care has been used in the choice of materials used in the manufacturing process of easiTrace,"​ said M G Treloar, commercial manager at Celentis. "With Whatman FTA, there is not only an ease of biological sampling via a device which can then be affixed to an identification substrate, but also subsequent DNA analysis is enhanced largely irrespective of storage conditions and storage time."

Whatman​ claims that its FTA system allows for the safe and rapid isolation of pure DNA at room temperature. Samples collected on Whatman FTA-treated products provide end-users with the opportunity to collect, purify, transport and archive nucleic acids.

"Food safety is an issue of concern that touches every population,"​ said Martin Smith, vice president of research and development for Whatman. "Whatman is committed to helping scientists stay on the cutting edge of food safety, providing a simple and efficient method to track potential disease through the capture of genetic identification."

The company has also entered into a cooperative research and development agreement with the US Food and Drug Administration to develop of a universal template preparation protocol for the detection of human pathogens, such as bacteria, found in foods and water. Whatman hopes that once complete, the method could be applied to most, if not all, food matrices.

Related topics Food safety and labeling

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