In April 2015, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams voluntarily closed stores and pulled its products from shelves after one of its products tested positive for listeria by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture. While contamination and outbreaks linked to listeria have been increasingly common, the CDC now has capabilities to employ whole-genome sequencing to connect a widespread outbreak to its source.
Sarah Brew, partner and food litigation and regulatory practice lead at Faegre Baker Daniels told the Wall Street Journal that whole-genome sequencing could be a game changer not only during an outbreak, but could potentially prevent contaminated products from ever reaching consumers.
“Whole-genome sequencing is a huge tool for the CDC,” said Brew. “It’s also a real opportunity for food companies to try to identify microorganisms better before products ever reach store shelves.”