Fera Science launches bacterial contamination sourcing product

Fera Science Limited has launched a new service for food manufacturers, OriGen.

Fera Science, which the Government privatised in 2015 and is now owned by Capita, has developed OriGen, which uses Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) to identify the source and trace the route of bacterial contamination.

The launch follows a recent food poisoning outbreak in bagged salad.

Research carried out by the insurance firm Lockton determined that the number of food recalls by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in 2015 grew by 78 per cent compared with the previous year.

Fera’s new service takes samples from across the product supply and processing chain to establish the source of a contamination using WGS, and can pinpoint a single machine as the root cause.

Andrew Hudson, head of microbiology for Fera Science Limited, said: "Food manufacturers know how expensive a recall can be, and how much damage a contaminated product batch can do to their reputation. With OriGen they’ll have the assurance that they are doing everything they can to find the root cause of the issue – and the confidence that they won’t have to see another costly recall due to the same product.

"WGS allows for a new level of precision in dealing with bacteria entering the food supply chain, dramatically increasing the chances of minimising future contamination from the same source."

The new test can find the source of three major foodborne bacteria in the UK, Salmonella, Listeria and Campylobacter. A test for pathogenic E.coli is being made available due to the recent outbreaks and demand from the industry.

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