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DNA Spray-On Technology Could Revolutionize Food Traceability

It sounds like something straight out of agricultural science fiction: a liquid solution containing unique bits of DNA that gets sprayed on foods in order to easily identify information about where it came from and how it was produced in the event of an outbreak or recall.

DNATrek, a Bay Area startup, is hoping to revolutionize the food traceability industry with DNA “barcodes” that can be added to fruits and vegetables via a liquid spray or a wax. The company says the tracers are odorless, tasteless and pose no food safety risk.

Founder and CEO Anthony Zografos heard about the DNA tracing technology developed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as a biodefense tool under a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense. Zografos saw an opportunity to apply the technology to the food safety industry to more quickly trace back outbreaks and recalls — a very challenging endeavor with current technology, he said.

“Because of the way food traceability is set up, traceback investigations are very often inconclusive or take weeks or more to complete,” Zografos told Food Safety News. “Without being able to figure out the problem, food companies usually issue these massive, expensive, knee-jerk recalls.”

The technology works by taking small snippets of synthetic DNA or genetic material from organisms typically not found in the grocery produce section — right now they’re using seaweed and other sea organisms — and adding those snippets with trace amounts of sugar in a sprayable solution that goes directly on the fruit and vegetables. If a problem with the produce arises, the DNA on the surface can be swabbed and identified within 15 minutes.

The advantage of having a DNA barcode directly on fresh produce is that it significantly reduces the potential for traceback information to be lost. Very often, boxes used to transport fresh produce have been discarded long before anyone catches on to a problem with the products, and those boxes have traditionally carried traceback information.

The technology allows for multiple layers of spray, as well. The grower can spray it on the farm, the processor can spray it in their sorting facility, and the transportation company can spray it when it’s en route to a store.

Each barcode has two parts. The first part is a fixed code unique to the company handling the food, assigned by DNATrek.

The second part is a configurable code that food company supplies based on whatever parameters they wish to track. They can use a unique code to identify which field the produce was grown, the harvest date, the picking crew, the machines that were used, or any other metric they want to track.

The more specific a company gets with their identification codes, the better they can identify any food safety problems that might arise with their fruits or vegetables.

Zografos reiterated the safety of the product and differentiated it from genetic engineering.

“If you bite into an apple, that has DNA in it. It’s not like we don’t consume DNA,” he said. “There is no scientifically-based concern about this. We can extract DNA from anything, and I don’t think anyone would argue that seaweed is unsafe.”

The next step is testing the effectiveness and safety with pilot programs on five or six types of produce, Zografos said.

Assuming they can get the fresh produce industry on board with their idea, they see a myriad of other potential applications. The wine and juice industries could be next.

“Ultimately, this is nothing more than ink,” Zografos said. “We can put it on pretty much anything you like.”

Food Safety News

DNA Spray-On Technology Could Revolutionize Food Traceability

It sounds like something straight out of agricultural science fiction: a liquid solution containing unique bits of DNA that gets sprayed on foods in order to easily identify information about where it came from and how it was produced in the event of an outbreak or recall.

DNATrek, a Bay Area startup, is hoping to revolutionize the food traceability industry with DNA “barcodes” that can be added to fruits and vegetables via a liquid spray or a wax. The company says the tracers are odorless, tasteless and pose no food safety risk.

Founder and CEO Anthony Zografos heard about the DNA tracing technology developed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as a biodefense tool under a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense. Zografos saw an opportunity to apply the technology to the food safety industry to more quickly trace back outbreaks and recalls — a very challenging endeavor with current technology, he said.

“Because of the way food traceability is set up, traceback investigations are very often inconclusive or take weeks or more to complete,” Zografos told Food Safety News. “Without being able to figure out the problem, food companies usually issue these massive, expensive, knee-jerk recalls.”

The technology works by taking small snippets of synthetic DNA or genetic material from organisms typically not found in the grocery produce section — right now they’re using seaweed and other sea organisms — and adding those snippets with trace amounts of sugar in a sprayable solution that goes directly on the fruit and vegetables. If a problem with the produce arises, the DNA on the surface can be swabbed and identified within 15 minutes.

The advantage of having a DNA barcode directly on fresh produce is that it significantly reduces the potential for traceback information to be lost. Very often, boxes used to transport fresh produce have been discarded long before anyone catches on to a problem with the products, and those boxes have traditionally carried traceback information.

The technology allows for multiple layers of spray, as well. The grower can spray it on the farm, the processor can spray it in their sorting facility, and the transportation company can spray it when it’s en route to a store.

Each barcode has two parts. The first part is a fixed code unique to the company handling the food, assigned by DNATrek.

The second part is a configurable code that food company supplies based on whatever parameters they wish to track. They can use a unique code to identify which field the produce was grown, the harvest date, the picking crew, the machines that were used, or any other metric they want to track.

The more specific a company gets with their identification codes, the better they can identify any food safety problems that might arise with their fruits or vegetables.

Zografos reiterated the safety of the product and differentiated it from genetic engineering.

“If you bite into an apple, that has DNA in it. It’s not like we don’t consume DNA,” he said. “There is no scientifically-based concern about this. We can extract DNA from anything, and I don’t think anyone would argue that seaweed is unsafe.”

The next step is testing the effectiveness and safety with pilot programs on five or six types of produce, Zografos said.

Assuming they can get the fresh produce industry on board with their idea, they see a myriad of other potential applications. The wine and juice industries could be next.

“Ultimately, this is nothing more than ink,” Zografos said. “We can put it on pretty much anything you like.”

Food Safety News

DNA Spray-On Technology Could Revolutionize Food Traceability

It sounds like something straight out of agricultural science fiction: a liquid solution containing unique bits of DNA that gets sprayed on foods in order to easily identify information about where it came from and how it was produced in the event of an outbreak or recall.

DNATrek, a Bay Area startup, is hoping to revolutionize the food traceability industry with DNA “barcodes” that can be added to fruits and vegetables via a liquid spray or a wax. The company says the tracers are odorless, tasteless and pose no food safety risk.

Founder and CEO Anthony Zografos heard about the DNA tracing technology developed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as a biodefense tool under a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense. Zografos saw an opportunity to apply the technology to the food safety industry to more quickly trace back outbreaks and recalls — a very challenging endeavor with current technology, he said.

“Because of the way food traceability is set up, traceback investigations are very often inconclusive or take weeks or more to complete,” Zografos told Food Safety News. “Without being able to figure out the problem, food companies usually issue these massive, expensive, knee-jerk recalls.”

The technology works by taking small snippets of synthetic DNA or genetic material from organisms typically not found in the grocery produce section — right now they’re using seaweed and other sea organisms — and adding those snippets with trace amounts of sugar in a sprayable solution that goes directly on the fruit and vegetables. If a problem with the produce arises, the DNA on the surface can be swabbed and identified within 15 minutes.

The advantage of having a DNA barcode directly on fresh produce is that it significantly reduces the potential for traceback information to be lost. Very often, boxes used to transport fresh produce have been discarded long before anyone catches on to a problem with the products, and those boxes have traditionally carried traceback information.

The technology allows for multiple layers of spray, as well. The grower can spray it on the farm, the processor can spray it in their sorting facility, and the transportation company can spray it when it’s en route to a store.

Each barcode has two parts. The first part is a fixed code unique to the company handling the food, assigned by DNATrek.

The second part is a configurable code that food company supplies based on whatever parameters they wish to track. They can use a unique code to identify which field the produce was grown, the harvest date, the picking crew, the machines that were used, or any other metric they want to track.

The more specific a company gets with their identification codes, the better they can identify any food safety problems that might arise with their fruits or vegetables.

Zografos reiterated the safety of the product and differentiated it from genetic engineering.

“If you bite into an apple, that has DNA in it. It’s not like we don’t consume DNA,” he said. “There is no scientifically-based concern about this. We can extract DNA from anything, and I don’t think anyone would argue that seaweed is unsafe.”

The next step is testing the effectiveness and safety with pilot programs on five or six types of produce, Zografos said.

Assuming they can get the fresh produce industry on board with their idea, they see a myriad of other potential applications. The wine and juice industries could be next.

“Ultimately, this is nothing more than ink,” Zografos said. “We can put it on pretty much anything you like.”

Food Safety News

DNA Spray-On Technology Could Revolutionize Food Traceability

It sounds like something straight out of agricultural science fiction: a liquid solution containing unique bits of DNA that gets sprayed on foods in order to easily identify information about where it came from and how it was produced in the event of an outbreak or recall.

DNATrek, a Bay Area startup, is hoping to revolutionize the food traceability industry with DNA “barcodes” that can be added to fruits and vegetables via a liquid spray or a wax. The company says the tracers are odorless, tasteless and pose no food safety risk.

Founder and CEO Anthony Zografos heard about the DNA tracing technology developed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as a biodefense tool under a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense. Zografos saw an opportunity to apply the technology to the food safety industry to more quickly trace back outbreaks and recalls — a very challenging endeavor with current technology, he said.

“Because of the way food traceability is set up, traceback investigations are very often inconclusive or take weeks or more to complete,” Zografos told Food Safety News. “Without being able to figure out the problem, food companies usually issue these massive, expensive, knee-jerk recalls.”

The technology works by taking small snippets of synthetic DNA or genetic material from organisms typically not found in the grocery produce section — right now they’re using seaweed and other sea organisms — and adding those snippets with trace amounts of sugar in a sprayable solution that goes directly on the fruit and vegetables. If a problem with the produce arises, the DNA on the surface can be swabbed and identified within 15 minutes.

The advantage of having a DNA barcode directly on fresh produce is that it significantly reduces the potential for traceback information to be lost. Very often, boxes used to transport fresh produce have been discarded long before anyone catches on to a problem with the products, and those boxes have traditionally carried traceback information.

The technology allows for multiple layers of spray, as well. The grower can spray it on the farm, the processor can spray it in their sorting facility, and the transportation company can spray it when it’s en route to a store.

Each barcode has two parts. The first part is a fixed code unique to the company handling the food, assigned by DNATrek.

The second part is a configurable code that food company supplies based on whatever parameters they wish to track. They can use a unique code to identify which field the produce was grown, the harvest date, the picking crew, the machines that were used, or any other metric they want to track.

The more specific a company gets with their identification codes, the better they can identify any food safety problems that might arise with their fruits or vegetables.

Zografos reiterated the safety of the product and differentiated it from genetic engineering.

“If you bite into an apple, that has DNA in it. It’s not like we don’t consume DNA,” he said. “There is no scientifically-based concern about this. We can extract DNA from anything, and I don’t think anyone would argue that seaweed is unsafe.”

The next step is testing the effectiveness and safety with pilot programs on five or six types of produce, Zografos said.

Assuming they can get the fresh produce industry on board with their idea, they see a myriad of other potential applications. The wine and juice industries could be next.

“Ultimately, this is nothing more than ink,” Zografos said. “We can put it on pretty much anything you like.”

Food Safety News

DNA Spray-On Technology Could Revolutionize Food Traceability

It sounds like something straight out of agricultural science fiction: a liquid solution containing unique bits of DNA that gets sprayed on foods in order to easily identify information about where it came from and how it was produced in the event of an outbreak or recall.

DNATrek, a Bay Area startup, is hoping to revolutionize the food traceability industry with DNA “barcodes” that can be added to fruits and vegetables via a liquid spray or a wax. The company says the tracers are odorless, tasteless and pose no food safety risk.

Founder and CEO Anthony Zografos heard about the DNA tracing technology developed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as a biodefense tool under a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense. Zografos saw an opportunity to apply the technology to the food safety industry to more quickly trace back outbreaks and recalls — a very challenging endeavor with current technology, he said.

“Because of the way food traceability is set up, traceback investigations are very often inconclusive or take weeks or more to complete,” Zografos told Food Safety News. “Without being able to figure out the problem, food companies usually issue these massive, expensive, knee-jerk recalls.”

The technology works by taking small snippets of synthetic DNA or genetic material from organisms typically not found in the grocery produce section — right now they’re using seaweed and other sea organisms — and adding those snippets with trace amounts of sugar in a sprayable solution that goes directly on the fruit and vegetables. If a problem with the produce arises, the DNA on the surface can be swabbed and identified within 15 minutes.

The advantage of having a DNA barcode directly on fresh produce is that it significantly reduces the potential for traceback information to be lost. Very often, boxes used to transport fresh produce have been discarded long before anyone catches on to a problem with the products, and those boxes have traditionally carried traceback information.

The technology allows for multiple layers of spray, as well. The grower can spray it on the farm, the processor can spray it in their sorting facility, and the transportation company can spray it when it’s en route to a store.

Each barcode has two parts. The first part is a fixed code unique to the company handling the food, assigned by DNATrek.

The second part is a configurable code that food company supplies based on whatever parameters they wish to track. They can use a unique code to identify which field the produce was grown, the harvest date, the picking crew, the machines that were used, or any other metric they want to track.

The more specific a company gets with their identification codes, the better they can identify any food safety problems that might arise with their fruits or vegetables.

Zografos reiterated the safety of the product and differentiated it from genetic engineering.

“If you bite into an apple, that has DNA in it. It’s not like we don’t consume DNA,” he said. “There is no scientifically-based concern about this. We can extract DNA from anything, and I don’t think anyone would argue that seaweed is unsafe.”

The next step is testing the effectiveness and safety with pilot programs on five or six types of produce, Zografos said.

Assuming they can get the fresh produce industry on board with their idea, they see a myriad of other potential applications. The wine and juice industries could be next.

“Ultimately, this is nothing more than ink,” Zografos said. “We can put it on pretty much anything you like.”

Food Safety News

DNA Spray-On Technology Could Revolutionize Food Traceability

It sounds like something straight out of agricultural science fiction: a liquid solution containing unique bits of DNA that gets sprayed on foods in order to easily identify information about where it came from and how it was produced in the event of an outbreak or recall.

DNATrek, a Bay Area startup, is hoping to revolutionize the food traceability industry with DNA “barcodes” that can be added to fruits and vegetables via a liquid spray or a wax. The company says the tracers are odorless, tasteless and pose no food safety risk.

Founder and CEO Anthony Zografos heard about the DNA tracing technology developed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as a biodefense tool under a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense. Zografos saw an opportunity to apply the technology to the food safety industry to more quickly trace back outbreaks and recalls — a very challenging endeavor with current technology, he said.

“Because of the way food traceability is set up, traceback investigations are very often inconclusive or take weeks or more to complete,” Zografos told Food Safety News. “Without being able to figure out the problem, food companies usually issue these massive, expensive, knee-jerk recalls.”

The technology works by taking small snippets of synthetic DNA or genetic material from organisms typically not found in the grocery produce section — right now they’re using seaweed and other sea organisms — and adding those snippets with trace amounts of sugar in a sprayable solution that goes directly on the fruit and vegetables. If a problem with the produce arises, the DNA on the surface can be swabbed and identified within 15 minutes.

The advantage of having a DNA barcode directly on fresh produce is that it significantly reduces the potential for traceback information to be lost. Very often, boxes used to transport fresh produce have been discarded long before anyone catches on to a problem with the products, and those boxes have traditionally carried traceback information.

The technology allows for multiple layers of spray, as well. The grower can spray it on the farm, the processor can spray it in their sorting facility, and the transportation company can spray it when it’s en route to a store.

Each barcode has two parts. The first part is a fixed code unique to the company handling the food, assigned by DNATrek.

The second part is a configurable code that food company supplies based on whatever parameters they wish to track. They can use a unique code to identify which field the produce was grown, the harvest date, the picking crew, the machines that were used, or any other metric they want to track.

The more specific a company gets with their identification codes, the better they can identify any food safety problems that might arise with their fruits or vegetables.

Zografos reiterated the safety of the product and differentiated it from genetic engineering.

“If you bite into an apple, that has DNA in it. It’s not like we don’t consume DNA,” he said. “There is no scientifically-based concern about this. We can extract DNA from anything, and I don’t think anyone would argue that seaweed is unsafe.”

The next step is testing the effectiveness and safety with pilot programs on five or six types of produce, Zografos said.

Assuming they can get the fresh produce industry on board with their idea, they see a myriad of other potential applications. The wine and juice industries could be next.

“Ultimately, this is nothing more than ink,” Zografos said. “We can put it on pretty much anything you like.”

Food Safety News

DNA Spray-On Technology Could Revolutionize Food Traceability

It sounds like something straight out of agricultural science fiction: a liquid solution containing unique bits of DNA that gets sprayed on foods in order to easily identify information about where it came from and how it was produced in the event of an outbreak or recall.

DNATrek, a Bay Area startup, is hoping to revolutionize the food traceability industry with DNA “barcodes” that can be added to fruits and vegetables via a liquid spray or a wax. The company says the tracers are odorless, tasteless and pose no food safety risk.

Founder and CEO Anthony Zografos heard about the DNA tracing technology developed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as a biodefense tool under a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense. Zografos saw an opportunity to apply the technology to the food safety industry to more quickly trace back outbreaks and recalls — a very challenging endeavor with current technology, he said.

“Because of the way food traceability is set up, traceback investigations are very often inconclusive or take weeks or more to complete,” Zografos told Food Safety News. “Without being able to figure out the problem, food companies usually issue these massive, expensive, knee-jerk recalls.”

The technology works by taking small snippets of synthetic DNA or genetic material from organisms typically not found in the grocery produce section — right now they’re using seaweed and other sea organisms — and adding those snippets with trace amounts of sugar in a sprayable solution that goes directly on the fruit and vegetables. If a problem with the produce arises, the DNA on the surface can be swabbed and identified within 15 minutes.

The advantage of having a DNA barcode directly on fresh produce is that it significantly reduces the potential for traceback information to be lost. Very often, boxes used to transport fresh produce have been discarded long before anyone catches on to a problem with the products, and those boxes have traditionally carried traceback information.

The technology allows for multiple layers of spray, as well. The grower can spray it on the farm, the processor can spray it in their sorting facility, and the transportation company can spray it when it’s en route to a store.

Each barcode has two parts. The first part is a fixed code unique to the company handling the food, assigned by DNATrek.

The second part is a configurable code that food company supplies based on whatever parameters they wish to track. They can use a unique code to identify which field the produce was grown, the harvest date, the picking crew, the machines that were used, or any other metric they want to track.

The more specific a company gets with their identification codes, the better they can identify any food safety problems that might arise with their fruits or vegetables.

Zografos reiterated the safety of the product and differentiated it from genetic engineering.

“If you bite into an apple, that has DNA in it. It’s not like we don’t consume DNA,” he said. “There is no scientifically-based concern about this. We can extract DNA from anything, and I don’t think anyone would argue that seaweed is unsafe.”

The next step is testing the effectiveness and safety with pilot programs on five or six types of produce, Zografos said.

Assuming they can get the fresh produce industry on board with their idea, they see a myriad of other potential applications. The wine and juice industries could be next.

“Ultimately, this is nothing more than ink,” Zografos said. “We can put it on pretty much anything you like.”

Food Safety News

DNA Spray-On Technology Could Revolutionize Food Traceability

It sounds like something straight out of agricultural science fiction: a liquid solution containing unique bits of DNA that gets sprayed on foods in order to easily identify information about where it came from and how it was produced in the event of an outbreak or recall.

DNATrek, a Bay Area startup, is hoping to revolutionize the food traceability industry with DNA “barcodes” that can be added to fruits and vegetables via a liquid spray or a wax. The company says the tracers are odorless, tasteless and pose no food safety risk.

Founder and CEO Anthony Zografos heard about the DNA tracing technology developed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as a biodefense tool under a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense. Zografos saw an opportunity to apply the technology to the food safety industry to more quickly trace back outbreaks and recalls — a very challenging endeavor with current technology, he said.

“Because of the way food traceability is set up, traceback investigations are very often inconclusive or take weeks or more to complete,” Zografos told Food Safety News. “Without being able to figure out the problem, food companies usually issue these massive, expensive, knee-jerk recalls.”

The technology works by taking small snippets of synthetic DNA or genetic material from organisms typically not found in the grocery produce section — right now they’re using seaweed and other sea organisms — and adding those snippets with trace amounts of sugar in a sprayable solution that goes directly on the fruit and vegetables. If a problem with the produce arises, the DNA on the surface can be swabbed and identified within 15 minutes.

The advantage of having a DNA barcode directly on fresh produce is that it significantly reduces the potential for traceback information to be lost. Very often, boxes used to transport fresh produce have been discarded long before anyone catches on to a problem with the products, and those boxes have traditionally carried traceback information.

The technology allows for multiple layers of spray, as well. The grower can spray it on the farm, the processor can spray it in their sorting facility, and the transportation company can spray it when it’s en route to a store.

Each barcode has two parts. The first part is a fixed code unique to the company handling the food, assigned by DNATrek.

The second part is a configurable code that food company supplies based on whatever parameters they wish to track. They can use a unique code to identify which field the produce was grown, the harvest date, the picking crew, the machines that were used, or any other metric they want to track.

The more specific a company gets with their identification codes, the better they can identify any food safety problems that might arise with their fruits or vegetables.

Zografos reiterated the safety of the product and differentiated it from genetic engineering.

“If you bite into an apple, that has DNA in it. It’s not like we don’t consume DNA,” he said. “There is no scientifically-based concern about this. We can extract DNA from anything, and I don’t think anyone would argue that seaweed is unsafe.”

The next step is testing the effectiveness and safety with pilot programs on five or six types of produce, Zografos said.

Assuming they can get the fresh produce industry on board with their idea, they see a myriad of other potential applications. The wine and juice industries could be next.

“Ultimately, this is nothing more than ink,” Zografos said. “We can put it on pretty much anything you like.”

Food Safety News

DNA Spray-On Technology Could Revolutionize Food Traceability

It sounds like something straight out of agricultural science fiction: a liquid solution containing unique bits of DNA that gets sprayed on foods in order to easily identify information about where it came from and how it was produced in the event of an outbreak or recall.

DNATrek, a Bay Area startup, is hoping to revolutionize the food traceability industry with DNA “barcodes” that can be added to fruits and vegetables via a liquid spray or a wax. The company says the tracers are odorless, tasteless and pose no food safety risk.

Founder and CEO Anthony Zografos heard about the DNA tracing technology developed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as a biodefense tool under a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense. Zografos saw an opportunity to apply the technology to the food safety industry to more quickly trace back outbreaks and recalls — a very challenging endeavor with current technology, he said.

“Because of the way food traceability is set up, traceback investigations are very often inconclusive or take weeks or more to complete,” Zografos told Food Safety News. “Without being able to figure out the problem, food companies usually issue these massive, expensive, knee-jerk recalls.”

The technology works by taking small snippets of synthetic DNA or genetic material from organisms typically not found in the grocery produce section — right now they’re using seaweed and other sea organisms — and adding those snippets with trace amounts of sugar in a sprayable solution that goes directly on the fruit and vegetables. If a problem with the produce arises, the DNA on the surface can be swabbed and identified within 15 minutes.

The advantage of having a DNA barcode directly on fresh produce is that it significantly reduces the potential for traceback information to be lost. Very often, boxes used to transport fresh produce have been discarded long before anyone catches on to a problem with the products, and those boxes have traditionally carried traceback information.

The technology allows for multiple layers of spray, as well. The grower can spray it on the farm, the processor can spray it in their sorting facility, and the transportation company can spray it when it’s en route to a store.

Each barcode has two parts. The first part is a fixed code unique to the company handling the food, assigned by DNATrek.

The second part is a configurable code that food company supplies based on whatever parameters they wish to track. They can use a unique code to identify which field the produce was grown, the harvest date, the picking crew, the machines that were used, or any other metric they want to track.

The more specific a company gets with their identification codes, the better they can identify any food safety problems that might arise with their fruits or vegetables.

Zografos reiterated the safety of the product and differentiated it from genetic engineering.

“If you bite into an apple, that has DNA in it. It’s not like we don’t consume DNA,” he said. “There is no scientifically-based concern about this. We can extract DNA from anything, and I don’t think anyone would argue that seaweed is unsafe.”

The next step is testing the effectiveness and safety with pilot programs on five or six types of produce, Zografos said.

Assuming they can get the fresh produce industry on board with their idea, they see a myriad of other potential applications. The wine and juice industries could be next.

“Ultimately, this is nothing more than ink,” Zografos said. “We can put it on pretty much anything you like.”

Food Safety News

DNA Spray-On Technology Could Revolutionize Food Traceability

It sounds like something straight out of agricultural science fiction: a liquid solution containing unique bits of DNA that gets sprayed on foods in order to easily identify information about where it came from and how it was produced in the event of an outbreak or recall.

DNATrek, a Bay Area startup, is hoping to revolutionize the food traceability industry with DNA “barcodes” that can be added to fruits and vegetables via a liquid spray or a wax. The company says the tracers are odorless, tasteless and pose no food safety risk.

Founder and CEO Anthony Zografos heard about the DNA tracing technology developed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as a biodefense tool under a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense. Zografos saw an opportunity to apply the technology to the food safety industry to more quickly trace back outbreaks and recalls — a very challenging endeavor with current technology, he said.

“Because of the way food traceability is set up, traceback investigations are very often inconclusive or take weeks or more to complete,” Zografos told Food Safety News. “Without being able to figure out the problem, food companies usually issue these massive, expensive, knee-jerk recalls.”

The technology works by taking small snippets of synthetic DNA or genetic material from organisms typically not found in the grocery produce section — right now they’re using seaweed and other sea organisms — and adding those snippets with trace amounts of sugar in a sprayable solution that goes directly on the fruit and vegetables. If a problem with the produce arises, the DNA on the surface can be swabbed and identified within 15 minutes.

The advantage of having a DNA barcode directly on fresh produce is that it significantly reduces the potential for traceback information to be lost. Very often, boxes used to transport fresh produce have been discarded long before anyone catches on to a problem with the products, and those boxes have traditionally carried traceback information.

The technology allows for multiple layers of spray, as well. The grower can spray it on the farm, the processor can spray it in their sorting facility, and the transportation company can spray it when it’s en route to a store.

Each barcode has two parts. The first part is a fixed code unique to the company handling the food, assigned by DNATrek.

The second part is a configurable code that food company supplies based on whatever parameters they wish to track. They can use a unique code to identify which field the produce was grown, the harvest date, the picking crew, the machines that were used, or any other metric they want to track.

The more specific a company gets with their identification codes, the better they can identify any food safety problems that might arise with their fruits or vegetables.

Zografos reiterated the safety of the product and differentiated it from genetic engineering.

“If you bite into an apple, that has DNA in it. It’s not like we don’t consume DNA,” he said. “There is no scientifically-based concern about this. We can extract DNA from anything, and I don’t think anyone would argue that seaweed is unsafe.”

The next step is testing the effectiveness and safety with pilot programs on five or six types of produce, Zografos said.

Assuming they can get the fresh produce industry on board with their idea, they see a myriad of other potential applications. The wine and juice industries could be next.

“Ultimately, this is nothing more than ink,” Zografos said. “We can put it on pretty much anything you like.”

Food Safety News

DNA Spray-On Technology Could Revolutionize Food Traceability

It sounds like something straight out of agricultural science fiction: a liquid solution containing unique bits of DNA that gets sprayed on foods in order to easily identify information about where it came from and how it was produced in the event of an outbreak or recall.

DNATrek, a Bay Area startup, is hoping to revolutionize the food traceability industry with DNA “barcodes” that can be added to fruits and vegetables via a liquid spray or a wax. The company says the tracers are odorless, tasteless and pose no food safety risk.

Founder and CEO Anthony Zografos heard about the DNA tracing technology developed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as a biodefense tool under a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense. Zografos saw an opportunity to apply the technology to the food safety industry to more quickly trace back outbreaks and recalls — a very challenging endeavor with current technology, he said.

“Because of the way food traceability is set up, traceback investigations are very often inconclusive or take weeks or more to complete,” Zografos told Food Safety News. “Without being able to figure out the problem, food companies usually issue these massive, expensive, knee-jerk recalls.”

The technology works by taking small snippets of synthetic DNA or genetic material from organisms typically not found in the grocery produce section — right now they’re using seaweed and other sea organisms — and adding those snippets with trace amounts of sugar in a sprayable solution that goes directly on the fruit and vegetables. If a problem with the produce arises, the DNA on the surface can be swabbed and identified within 15 minutes.

The advantage of having a DNA barcode directly on fresh produce is that it significantly reduces the potential for traceback information to be lost. Very often, boxes used to transport fresh produce have been discarded long before anyone catches on to a problem with the products, and those boxes have traditionally carried traceback information.

The technology allows for multiple layers of spray, as well. The grower can spray it on the farm, the processor can spray it in their sorting facility, and the transportation company can spray it when it’s en route to a store.

Each barcode has two parts. The first part is a fixed code unique to the company handling the food, assigned by DNATrek.

The second part is a configurable code that food company supplies based on whatever parameters they wish to track. They can use a unique code to identify which field the produce was grown, the harvest date, the picking crew, the machines that were used, or any other metric they want to track.

The more specific a company gets with their identification codes, the better they can identify any food safety problems that might arise with their fruits or vegetables.

Zografos reiterated the safety of the product and differentiated it from genetic engineering.

“If you bite into an apple, that has DNA in it. It’s not like we don’t consume DNA,” he said. “There is no scientifically-based concern about this. We can extract DNA from anything, and I don’t think anyone would argue that seaweed is unsafe.”

The next step is testing the effectiveness and safety with pilot programs on five or six types of produce, Zografos said.

Assuming they can get the fresh produce industry on board with their idea, they see a myriad of other potential applications. The wine and juice industries could be next.

“Ultimately, this is nothing more than ink,” Zografos said. “We can put it on pretty much anything you like.”

Food Safety News

DNA Spray-On Technology Could Revolutionize Food Traceability

It sounds like something straight out of agricultural science fiction: a liquid solution containing unique bits of DNA that gets sprayed on foods in order to easily identify information about where it came from and how it was produced in the event of an outbreak or recall.

DNATrek, a Bay Area startup, is hoping to revolutionize the food traceability industry with DNA “barcodes” that can be added to fruits and vegetables via a liquid spray or a wax. The company says the tracers are odorless, tasteless and pose no food safety risk.

Founder and CEO Anthony Zografos heard about the DNA tracing technology developed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as a biodefense tool under a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense. Zografos saw an opportunity to apply the technology to the food safety industry to more quickly trace back outbreaks and recalls — a very challenging endeavor with current technology, he said.

“Because of the way food traceability is set up, traceback investigations are very often inconclusive or take weeks or more to complete,” Zografos told Food Safety News. “Without being able to figure out the problem, food companies usually issue these massive, expensive, knee-jerk recalls.”

The technology works by taking small snippets of synthetic DNA or genetic material from organisms typically not found in the grocery produce section — right now they’re using seaweed and other sea organisms — and adding those snippets with trace amounts of sugar in a sprayable solution that goes directly on the fruit and vegetables. If a problem with the produce arises, the DNA on the surface can be swabbed and identified within 15 minutes.

The advantage of having a DNA barcode directly on fresh produce is that it significantly reduces the potential for traceback information to be lost. Very often, boxes used to transport fresh produce have been discarded long before anyone catches on to a problem with the products, and those boxes have traditionally carried traceback information.

The technology allows for multiple layers of spray, as well. The grower can spray it on the farm, the processor can spray it in their sorting facility, and the transportation company can spray it when it’s en route to a store.

Each barcode has two parts. The first part is a fixed code unique to the company handling the food, assigned by DNATrek.

The second part is a configurable code that food company supplies based on whatever parameters they wish to track. They can use a unique code to identify which field the produce was grown, the harvest date, the picking crew, the machines that were used, or any other metric they want to track.

The more specific a company gets with their identification codes, the better they can identify any food safety problems that might arise with their fruits or vegetables.

Zografos reiterated the safety of the product and differentiated it from genetic engineering.

“If you bite into an apple, that has DNA in it. It’s not like we don’t consume DNA,” he said. “There is no scientifically-based concern about this. We can extract DNA from anything, and I don’t think anyone would argue that seaweed is unsafe.”

The next step is testing the effectiveness and safety with pilot programs on five or six types of produce, Zografos said.

Assuming they can get the fresh produce industry on board with their idea, they see a myriad of other potential applications. The wine and juice industries could be next.

“Ultimately, this is nothing more than ink,” Zografos said. “We can put it on pretty much anything you like.”

Food Safety News

DNA Spray-On Technology Could Revolutionize Food Traceability

It sounds like something straight out of agricultural science fiction: a liquid solution containing unique bits of DNA that gets sprayed on foods in order to easily identify information about where it came from and how it was produced in the event of an outbreak or recall.

DNATrek, a Bay Area startup, is hoping to revolutionize the food traceability industry with DNA “barcodes” that can be added to fruits and vegetables via a liquid spray or a wax. The company says the tracers are odorless, tasteless and pose no food safety risk.

Founder and CEO Anthony Zografos heard about the DNA tracing technology developed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as a biodefense tool under a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense. Zografos saw an opportunity to apply the technology to the food safety industry to more quickly trace back outbreaks and recalls — a very challenging endeavor with current technology, he said.

“Because of the way food traceability is set up, traceback investigations are very often inconclusive or take weeks or more to complete,” Zografos told Food Safety News. “Without being able to figure out the problem, food companies usually issue these massive, expensive, knee-jerk recalls.”

The technology works by taking small snippets of synthetic DNA or genetic material from organisms typically not found in the grocery produce section — right now they’re using seaweed and other sea organisms — and adding those snippets with trace amounts of sugar in a sprayable solution that goes directly on the fruit and vegetables. If a problem with the produce arises, the DNA on the surface can be swabbed and identified within 15 minutes.

The advantage of having a DNA barcode directly on fresh produce is that it significantly reduces the potential for traceback information to be lost. Very often, boxes used to transport fresh produce have been discarded long before anyone catches on to a problem with the products, and those boxes have traditionally carried traceback information.

The technology allows for multiple layers of spray, as well. The grower can spray it on the farm, the processor can spray it in their sorting facility, and the transportation company can spray it when it’s en route to a store.

Each barcode has two parts. The first part is a fixed code unique to the company handling the food, assigned by DNATrek.

The second part is a configurable code that food company supplies based on whatever parameters they wish to track. They can use a unique code to identify which field the produce was grown, the harvest date, the picking crew, the machines that were used, or any other metric they want to track.

The more specific a company gets with their identification codes, the better they can identify any food safety problems that might arise with their fruits or vegetables.

Zografos reiterated the safety of the product and differentiated it from genetic engineering.

“If you bite into an apple, that has DNA in it. It’s not like we don’t consume DNA,” he said. “There is no scientifically-based concern about this. We can extract DNA from anything, and I don’t think anyone would argue that seaweed is unsafe.”

The next step is testing the effectiveness and safety with pilot programs on five or six types of produce, Zografos said.

Assuming they can get the fresh produce industry on board with their idea, they see a myriad of other potential applications. The wine and juice industries could be next.

“Ultimately, this is nothing more than ink,” Zografos said. “We can put it on pretty much anything you like.”

Food Safety News

How Silicon Valley could revolutionize America’s farming capital

How Silicon Valley could revolutionize America’s farming capital

The perfect storm of “smart farming” is about to be unleashed, with the world’s population expected to surpass 9 billion people by 2050, and the middle class expected to grow from 1.5 billion to 4.5 billion. At the same time there is an increasing emphasis on fresh food and healthy eating, and food production is expected to explode.

According to Norman Borlaug, the Nobel laureate who has been called “the father of the Green Revolution,” “agriculture’s greatest spokesperson” and “The Man Who Saved A billion Lives,” “In the next 40 years, farmers will have to grow as much food as they have in the last 10,000 years — combined.”

Salinas Valley, just an hour south of Silicon Valley, is the fresh food capital of America and home to agricultural giants such as Dole Foods, Chiquita, Driscoll Berries, Taylor Farms, Ocean Mist Farms, JV Smith and Tanimura & Antle, to name a few. Salinas Valley agriculture is an $ 8 billion business and it is here that more than 80 percent of the nation’s lettuce is produced and other top crops, including strawberries, broccoli, artichokes and wine grapes. This is a highly competitive industry that has been refined over five generations, taking out every element of cost, and now it is ripe for innovation.

Brian W. Kocher, Chiquita’s Chief Operating Officer, says,  “We have experienced substantial changes in growing conditions over the last years. It is clear that time-tested agricultural practices are no longer sufficient for an expanding population and we must be smarter and more efficient using increasingly scarce resources such as water. The intersection of agricultural and technical science is rapidly improving yields and efficiencies, and we believe the initiatives to link agricultural innovators with technology innovators will yield substantial benefits for both the population and the planet.”

In Silicon Valley there is a technology revolution taking place with the impact of sensors, big data, mobility, the cloud, drones and the Internet of things (IoT) and it expected that more than 50 billion devices will be connected by 2020. According to new research from International Data Corporation (IDC), a transformation is underway that will see the worldwide market for IoT solutions grow from $ 1.9 trillion in 2013 to $ 7.1 trillion in 2020. IDC defines the Internet of Things as a network of networks of uniquely identifiable endpoints (or “things”) that communicate without human interaction using IP connectivity – be it “locally” or globally.

“Like many industries today, the agriculture industry is being transformed by the use of data, in all its variety,” said Deborah Magid, Director of Software Strategy in IBM’s Venture Capital Group. “Data is everywhere, and over the next few years, innovative new uses of information in all aspects of farming — from yield optimization, to food safety and quality, to distribution, to water management, fertilizer management, connected vehicles and even whole new methods of growing food — will be adopted. It’s already happening. For example, Georgia’s Flint River Partnership and IBM recently announced a collaboration to use Data-Driven Agriculture Solutions to enhance agricultural efficiency by up to 20 percent.”

So the perfect storm is about to be unleashed, with Salinas Valley joining forces with Silicon Valley to make farming “Smart.” This major initiative called Steinbeck Innovation is a breakthrough concept conceived by SVG Partners and developed in conjunction with the City of Salinas to drive Agriculture innovation and technology. To date, the focus has been on driving entrepreneurship through the Kauffman fastTrac program and innovation with leading universities such as UC Davis, ASU, CSUMB and Hartnell College. SVG Partners is now launching a strategic venture fund and accelerator program called Thrive in partnership with major agriculture corporations to drive investment in disruptive new technologies in AgTech.

Source: forbes.com

Publication date: 7/10/2014


FreshPlaza.com

New wireless network to revolutionize soil testing

A University of Southampton researcher has helped to develop a wireless network of sensors that is set to revolutionize soil-based salinity measuring.

Dr Nick Harris, from Electronics and Electrical Engineering, worked with a group of professors from the University of Western Australia (UWA) to produce the revolutionary sensor that can carry out non-destructive testing of soil samples.

The sensor is capable of measuring the chloride (salt) in the soil moisture and linking up with other sensors to create a wireless network that can collate and relay the measurement readings. The network can also control the time intervals at which measurements are taken.

The sensor is placed in the soil and measures the chloride levels in the soil moisture in a non-destructive way. These chloride levels make up a high proportion of the overall soil salinity.

Dr Harris says: “Traditionally, soil-based measurements involve taking samples and transporting them to the laboratory for analysis. This is very labor and cost intensive and therefore it usually means spot checks only with samples being taken every two to three months. It also doesn’t differentiate between chloride in crystallized form and chloride in dissolved form. This can be an important difference as plants only ‘see’ chloride in the soil moisture.

“The removal of a soil sample from its natural environment also means that the same sample can only be measured once, so the traditional (destructive) method is not suited to measuring changes at a point over a period of time..”

The new sensors are connected to a small unit and can be ‘planted’ in the ground and left to their own devices. The limiting factor for lifetime is usually the sensor. However, these sensors are expected to have a lifetime in excess of one year. The battery-powered unit can transmit data and information by short range radio, Bluetooth, satellite or mobile phone network, as well as allowing data to be logged to a memory card to be collected later.

The novel device allows up to seven sensors to be connected at a time to a single transmitter allowing multi-point measurements to be simply taken.

Dr Harris adds: “These soil-based chloride sensors can benefit a wide range of applications. Large parts of the world have problems with salt causing agricultural land to be unusable, but the new sensors allow the level of salt to be measured in real time, rather than once every few months as was previously the case.

“At plant level, probes can be positioned at continuous levels of depth to determine the salt concentration to which roots are exposed and whether this concentration changes with the depth of the soil or in different weather conditions. We can also measure how well a plant performs at a particular concentration and change the salt content for a few days and observe the effects.

“On a bigger scale, sensors could be placed at different locations at catchment scale to observe any changes in the level of salinity within a field over time, having a direct impact on irrigation strategies. We have already been able to make some interesting observations on real world chloride concentration changes over just 24 hour periods, illustrating the dangers of relying on single point, single time measurements.”

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Southampton. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily