food safety dna cdcHave you been watching the news recently? Food safety is a hot topic. It’s on the news daily – and it’s not good news. We rely on global food sources to provide us with food that is safe to consume.  When food is delivered to market that is not safe to consume we begin to see “outbreaks” develop. Here’s a rundown of some 2015 foodborne illness outbreaks:


The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that “Each year, 1 in 6 Americans get sick from eating contaminated food.” That number reflects the fact that there are many challenges in food safety particularly when it comes to growing, production and handling.  Add in, new and emerging bacteria and antibiotic resistance and you have a real dilemma on your hands.11540914_10152937385066088_698528233350448176_n

Fortunately, the CDC works to detect, investigate and track foodborne illnesses and collaborates with state and local health departments and other federal agencies to investigate foodborne outbreaks. At the core of tracking these issues is DNA.  For example, the Listeriosis outbreak linked to soft cheese resulted in the following findings:

  • Five rare DNA fingerprints of Listeria are included in this investigation.
  • Whole genome sequencing showed that the Listeria strains with the five rare DNA fingerprints are closely related genetically.

The FDA and CDC rely on DNA fingerprints to track foodborne illness and more important prevent additional cases.

Want to learn more about foodborne illness and DNA labs for your classroom?  

Join us for a free workshop Saturday, September 26 at Miramar College San Diego. For more information please contact us at