Quicker tracking during outbreaks linked to foodborne pathogens is the goal of a $17 million, five-year contract the Food and Drug Administration recently awarded to Illumina Inc.
The contract calls for the San Diego company to provide the FDA with DNA sequencing systems and reagents for whole-genome analysis of produce and produce-related environmental salmonella and E. coli isolates, according to a news release from Illumina.
This project supports FDA’s work to gather baseline data to identify and remove contaminated produce from the nation’s food supply, according to the news release.
Sequencing allows for subtyping and cluster analysis during foodborne outbreaks and traceback to the food or environmental source.
Illumina’s MiSeq sequencing product has better resolution than conventional molecular typing tools, according to the company. It is especially well suited for differentiating between closely linked bacterial isolates, such as with salmonella.
The FDA is already using several MiSeq systems and is building capacity to provide resources and training to enhance whole-genome sequencing abilities as part of a proof-of-concept initiative, the Illumina release stated. The agency also plans to collect data crucial to source tracking salmonella in future produce-related outbreaks.