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The Foods You Eat

In a bid to improve the safety of the food supply system, researchers at Mars and IBM are embarking on a project to study the microorganisms of common food ingredients.

This Consortium for Sequencing the Food Supply Chain plans to conduct a large metagenomic study of the role that microorganisms have in a factory and then beyond to other parts of the supply chain, GenomeWeb reports.

"We want to get a baseline for safe food ingredients, all the way up and down the food supply chain, including what makes healthy biochemistry," James Kaufman, public health manager for IBM Research, tells Wired. "If you can understand what a normal, healthy microbiome looks like, you can figure some things out about how that microbiome will respond to the unknown." Those unknowns, Wired adds, could be pathogens or other impurities.

For the first stage of the project, the consortium will focus on ingredients like poultry meal, fishmeal, egg powder, and ground corn, Wired says.