Blog Archives

Whole-Genome Technology Solving More Outbreak Investigations

A common disclaimer supplied by public health officials while in the midst of a foodborne illness outbreak investigation goes something like this: “We’re doing our best to find the food source of the outbreak, but it’s important to remember that the majority of outbreaks are never traced back to a source.”

In other words, most outbreaks go unsolved because it’s just too difficult to pinpoint a food source given the constraints of technology and resources. While that may still be the case, more public health agencies are beginning to adopt technology that will help close the gap between the number of solved and unsolved outbreaks.

That technology is whole-genome sequencing (WGS), a method of identifying organisms such as bacteria and other pathogens by analyzing their entire DNA sequence. By comparison, pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), the decades-old industry-standard epidemiological technology, looks at less than 1 percent of a pathogen’s genome.

The superior accuracy of WGS allows for much greater certainty when trying to solve relatively small outbreaks, or, even better, outbreaks that have already come and gone.

In recent months, three high-profile foodborne illness outbreaks — which included at least three deaths — have been solved retroactively, thanks to WGS.

In August 2014, the technology was credited with determining the food source of an outbreak that killed two people and hospitalized another three.

Routine testing by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes on a sample of bean sprouts from Wholesome Soy Products Inc.. Through WGS, that sample was connected back to five samples from sickened individuals in Illinois and Michigan, two of whom had died from their illness.

Until WGS technology came on the scene, such outbreaks would have likely gone undetected, said Martin Wiedmann, Ph.D., professor of food science at Cornell University.

With WGS, health investigators are able to identify the exact organism causing illnesses down to its complete DNA sequence. PFGE, by comparison, allows for more uncertainty because it can’t identify the organism with nearly as much precision.

Wiedmann uses an analogy of a dog-bite investigation when illustrating the precision of WGS compared to other technologies.

“It’s like if three people were separately bitten by a German Shepherd, and they decided, ‘OK, it’s probably the same dog that bit each person’ — that’s like using PFGE,” he said. “But with whole-genome sequencing, it would be like getting blood samples from the victims and analyzing the DNA to see if they all match the same dog.”

Also in August 2014, Oasis Brands Inc., recalled several cheese and dairy products due to Listeria contamination after routine FDA testing found contamination. In that outbreak, WGS retroactively connected one death and four illnesses to the products in Georgia, New York, Tennessee and Texas.

WGS also connected six Salmonella illnesses to nut butter produced by nSpired Natural Foods Inc. from between January and May 2014.

The truth is that, over time, food processors will know that if a pathogen is found in their facility, the genome will be sequenced and checked against a database to look for connected illnesses, Wiedmann said.

Ultimately, he said, that knowledge will be a good thing for both food producers and consumers.

“It’s more important than ever that producers have stringent sampling plans in place to make sure organisms are there and taking care of them,” Wiedmann said. “Many of them are already doing this. We’re starting to see processors improve their sampling game and preventing more outbreaks.”

Food Safety News

Whole-Genome Technology Solving More Outbreak Investigations

A common disclaimer supplied by public health officials while in the midst of a foodborne illness outbreak investigation goes something like this: “We’re doing our best to find the food source of the outbreak, but it’s important to remember that the majority of outbreaks are never traced back to a source.”

In other words, most outbreaks go unsolved because it’s just too difficult to pinpoint a food source given the constraints of technology and resources. While that may still be the case, more public health agencies are beginning to adopt technology that will help close the gap between the number of solved and unsolved outbreaks.

That technology is whole-genome sequencing (WGS), a method of identifying organisms such as bacteria and other pathogens by analyzing their entire DNA sequence. By comparison, pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), the decades-old industry-standard epidemiological technology, looks at less than 1 percent of a pathogen’s genome.

The superior accuracy of WGS allows for much greater certainty when trying to solve relatively small outbreaks, or, even better, outbreaks that have already come and gone.

In recent months, three high-profile foodborne illness outbreaks — which included at least three deaths — have been solved retroactively, thanks to WGS.

In August 2014, the technology was credited with determining the food source of an outbreak that killed two people and hospitalized another three.

Routine testing by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes on a sample of bean sprouts from Wholesome Soy Products Inc.. Through WGS, that sample was connected back to five samples from sickened individuals in Illinois and Michigan, two of whom had died from their illness.

Until WGS technology came on the scene, such outbreaks would have likely gone undetected, said Martin Wiedmann, Ph.D., professor of food science at Cornell University.

With WGS, health investigators are able to identify the exact organism causing illnesses down to its complete DNA sequence. PFGE, by comparison, allows for more uncertainty because it can’t identify the organism with nearly as much precision.

Wiedmann uses an analogy of a dog-bite investigation when illustrating the precision of WGS compared to other technologies.

“It’s like if three people were separately bitten by a German Shepherd, and they decided, ‘OK, it’s probably the same dog that bit each person’ — that’s like using PFGE,” he said. “But with whole-genome sequencing, it would be like getting blood samples from the victims and analyzing the DNA to see if they all match the same dog.”

Also in August 2014, Oasis Brands Inc., recalled several cheese and dairy products due to Listeria contamination after routine FDA testing found contamination. In that outbreak, WGS retroactively connected one death and four illnesses to the products in Georgia, New York, Tennessee and Texas.

WGS also connected six Salmonella illnesses to nut butter produced by nSpired Natural Foods Inc. from between January and May 2014.

The truth is that, over time, food processors will know that if a pathogen is found in their facility, the genome will be sequenced and checked against a database to look for connected illnesses, Wiedmann said.

Ultimately, he said, that knowledge will be a good thing for both food producers and consumers.

“It’s more important than ever that producers have stringent sampling plans in place to make sure organisms are there and taking care of them,” Wiedmann said. “Many of them are already doing this. We’re starting to see processors improve their sampling game and preventing more outbreaks.”

Food Safety News

Whole-Genome Technology Solving More Outbreak Investigations

A common disclaimer supplied by public health officials while in the midst of a foodborne illness outbreak investigation goes something like this: “We’re doing our best to find the food source of the outbreak, but it’s important to remember that the majority of outbreaks are never traced back to a source.”

In other words, most outbreaks go unsolved because it’s just too difficult to pinpoint a food source given the constraints of technology and resources. While that may still be the case, more public health agencies are beginning to adopt technology that will help close the gap between the number of solved and unsolved outbreaks.

That technology is whole-genome sequencing (WGS), a method of identifying organisms such as bacteria and other pathogens by analyzing their entire DNA sequence. By comparison, pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), the decades-old industry-standard epidemiological technology, looks at less than 1 percent of a pathogen’s genome.

The superior accuracy of WGS allows for much greater certainty when trying to solve relatively small outbreaks, or, even better, outbreaks that have already come and gone.

In recent months, three high-profile foodborne illness outbreaks — which included at least three deaths — have been solved retroactively, thanks to WGS.

In August 2014, the technology was credited with determining the food source of an outbreak that killed two people and hospitalized another three.

Routine testing by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes on a sample of bean sprouts from Wholesome Soy Products Inc.. Through WGS, that sample was connected back to five samples from sickened individuals in Illinois and Michigan, two of whom had died from their illness.

Until WGS technology came on the scene, such outbreaks would have likely gone undetected, said Martin Wiedmann, Ph.D., professor of food science at Cornell University.

With WGS, health investigators are able to identify the exact organism causing illnesses down to its complete DNA sequence. PFGE, by comparison, allows for more uncertainty because it can’t identify the organism with nearly as much precision.

Wiedmann uses an analogy of a dog-bite investigation when illustrating the precision of WGS compared to other technologies.

“It’s like if three people were separately bitten by a German Shepherd, and they decided, ‘OK, it’s probably the same dog that bit each person’ — that’s like using PFGE,” he said. “But with whole-genome sequencing, it would be like getting blood samples from the victims and analyzing the DNA to see if they all match the same dog.”

Also in August 2014, Oasis Brands Inc., recalled several cheese and dairy products due to Listeria contamination after routine FDA testing found contamination. In that outbreak, WGS retroactively connected one death and four illnesses to the products in Georgia, New York, Tennessee and Texas.

WGS also connected six Salmonella illnesses to nut butter produced by nSpired Natural Foods Inc. from between January and May 2014.

The truth is that, over time, food processors will know that if a pathogen is found in their facility, the genome will be sequenced and checked against a database to look for connected illnesses, Wiedmann said.

Ultimately, he said, that knowledge will be a good thing for both food producers and consumers.

“It’s more important than ever that producers have stringent sampling plans in place to make sure organisms are there and taking care of them,” Wiedmann said. “Many of them are already doing this. We’re starting to see processors improve their sampling game and preventing more outbreaks.”

Food Safety News

Whole-Genome Technology Solving More Outbreak Investigations

A common disclaimer supplied by public health officials while in the midst of a foodborne illness outbreak investigation goes something like this: “We’re doing our best to find the food source of the outbreak, but it’s important to remember that the majority of outbreaks are never traced back to a source.”

In other words, most outbreaks go unsolved because it’s just too difficult to pinpoint a food source given the constraints of technology and resources. While that may still be the case, more public health agencies are beginning to adopt technology that will help close the gap between the number of solved and unsolved outbreaks.

That technology is whole-genome sequencing (WGS), a method of identifying organisms such as bacteria and other pathogens by analyzing their entire DNA sequence. By comparison, pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), the decades-old industry-standard epidemiological technology, looks at less than 1 percent of a pathogen’s genome.

The superior accuracy of WGS allows for much greater certainty when trying to solve relatively small outbreaks, or, even better, outbreaks that have already come and gone.

In recent months, three high-profile foodborne illness outbreaks — which included at least three deaths — have been solved retroactively, thanks to WGS.

In August 2014, the technology was credited with determining the food source of an outbreak that killed two people and hospitalized another three.

Routine testing by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes on a sample of bean sprouts from Wholesome Soy Products Inc.. Through WGS, that sample was connected back to five samples from sickened individuals in Illinois and Michigan, two of whom had died from their illness.

Until WGS technology came on the scene, such outbreaks would have likely gone undetected, said Martin Wiedmann, Ph.D., professor of food science at Cornell University.

With WGS, health investigators are able to identify the exact organism causing illnesses down to its complete DNA sequence. PFGE, by comparison, allows for more uncertainty because it can’t identify the organism with nearly as much precision.

Wiedmann uses an analogy of a dog-bite investigation when illustrating the precision of WGS compared to other technologies.

“It’s like if three people were separately bitten by a German Shepherd, and they decided, ‘OK, it’s probably the same dog that bit each person’ — that’s like using PFGE,” he said. “But with whole-genome sequencing, it would be like getting blood samples from the victims and analyzing the DNA to see if they all match the same dog.”

Also in August 2014, Oasis Brands Inc., recalled several cheese and dairy products due to Listeria contamination after routine FDA testing found contamination. In that outbreak, WGS retroactively connected one death and four illnesses to the products in Georgia, New York, Tennessee and Texas.

WGS also connected six Salmonella illnesses to nut butter produced by nSpired Natural Foods Inc. from between January and May 2014.

The truth is that, over time, food processors will know that if a pathogen is found in their facility, the genome will be sequenced and checked against a database to look for connected illnesses, Wiedmann said.

Ultimately, he said, that knowledge will be a good thing for both food producers and consumers.

“It’s more important than ever that producers have stringent sampling plans in place to make sure organisms are there and taking care of them,” Wiedmann said. “Many of them are already doing this. We’re starting to see processors improve their sampling game and preventing more outbreaks.”

Food Safety News

New generation PEF technology for potato processing

New generation PEF technology for potato processing

Dutch company Pulsemaster has introduced a new generation PEF (pulsed electric field) technology that significantly improves potato processing. With this cost efficient application, the final breakthrough of PEF processing in the food industry is approaching.

The Pulsemaster PEF technology induces poration of potato cells, leading to cell disintegration. This makes the pulsed electric field systems an excellent alternative for preheaters in the potato industry. The PEF treatment improves cut quality and significantly reduces French fry breakage. Water and energy consumption in potato processing are reduced; blanching, drying and prebaking times are shortened. Furthermore, the leaching of sugars is improved. The treatment can also reduce frying oil absorption and fat content up to 50%.

Energy efficient, compact and hygienic
Pulsemaster’s technical improved PEF concept is more energy efficient than the previous generation. The new equipment gives a better pulse treatment of potatoes with a more compact and modular pulse generator. The generator is combined with a robust and hygienic transport system and PEF treatment chamber.

PEF processing is a continuous process and the Pulsemaster systems can easily be implemented in existing processing lines. The new range of industrial scale equipment – named Conditioner – has treatment capacities from 1 ton an hour to 50 tons an hour (about 110,000 lb/h) for potato processing systems. On a commercial scale total costs of 1 Euro/ton (0.1 Eurocent per kg / 0.056 US Dollarcent per lb) have to be expected.

The Pulsemaster PEF systems can also be applied to improve other drying, cutting, peeling and pressing processes. Examples are the drying of sweet peppers and grapes, the peeling and cutting of tomatoes and the pressing of vegetables and olives. In the meat industry PEF processing leads to shorter tumbling times.

Unique experience
The innovative Dutch company Pulsemaster combines years of unique experience with pulsed power technology. The production facility is located in Bladel, The Netherlands. The pulse generators have a proven track record for industry, research, medical and defense applications. Their patented parallel switching technology enables better pulse control and high reliability.

Pulsemaster aspires to further growth in the potato, fruit and vegetable industry. The company has seen rapid development it its export activities. In Seattle/Bellevue, Washington Pulsemaster has an office for the North-American market at its disposal. “The worldwide potato industry has been showing great interest in our new generation PEF technology”, says Pulsemaster’s managing director Mark de Boevere.

Moreover, pulsed electric field processing is an excellent technology for the mild preservation of liquid foods and beverages. The pulsed electric field inactivates micro-organisms, but leaves valuable compounds, such as vitamins and proteins, unaffected. Pulsemaster also offers PEF systems for food preservation purposes, including a new generation juice treatment chambers.

For more information:
Mark de Boevere
Pulsemaster BV
Tel. +31 497 820300
Email: [email protected]
www.pulsemaster.us

Publication date: 11/28/2014


FreshPlaza.com

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

Why technology will never replace people

With several consolidations and acquisitions taking place over the last 12 months, what will future organizational charts look like? The most accurate answer is, leaner. Yet to be determined is, more efficient?

We tend to think of efficiencies as pure productivity in the abstract. In pursuing efficiencies of scale, certainly sustainable efficiencies are the goals. However, remove the abstract and we realize that people, not systems, effectuate most of the results.

It’s true that technology, the main culprit, has replaced a number of jobs in the U.S. workforce (although just as many, if not more, have been by humans in Asia). But how much can technology really replace the human element in a service/people driven business?

Technology certainly creates efficiencies, but where executed best, technology and humans act as complements of one another, not in place of. The fixation of how can technology replace humans keeps us from addressing a more important question — how can people work better together? And in a service business, technology enhances this, it doesn’t replace it. Indeed, technology allows innovative companies to unleash human capabilities in the value chain.

Gary Hamel, management guru, cites that the pursuit of efficiencies of scale has led corporations to trade away units of innovation for units of efficiency. And worth noting, markets are much more flexible, and move much faster, than hierarchies. In essence, putting a premium on innovation. Let’s not forget that innovation comes from flesh and blood human beings, not bureaucracies.

Multiple surveys tell us that more interaction with store employees is what customers seek most. Technology can enhance the shopper experience. But the experience still lies predominately in the physical world, not the digital. Still, we see initiatives in digital/mobile being created as if they are the panacea to the shopper experience. Again, where executed best, technology and humans act as complements of one another.


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A good example of this is Harris Teeter’s Express Lane pick up service, which has been followed by Wal-Mart To-Go. Instacart, Peapod and FreshDirect also come to mind. All marry technology and human capabilities while creating new jobs as a net gain: Conception requires a team to create and design the service. Maintaining daily technological functionality/optimization also requires a team. Lastly, order selectors and drivers complete the service offering, creating jobs all along the channel.

From my perspective, “Shopper Experience” is a mere techno/marketing buzzword that without human interaction lacks substance. Or as Peter Thiel, founder of PayPal and original investor of Facebook, likes to say, “We’ve seen innovation in bits, but lack innovation in atoms (humans).”

In the end, the sustainable efficiencies of these mergers will be mostly determined by the fusion of people, not scale. The first is an art, the latter a hard science. And where done best, art and science coalesce to produce outstanding results.

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