Canada is using whole-genome sequencing to track contaminated foods that have made people ill, the CBC reports. It adds that some four million Canadians become sick each year from eating contaminated food.
According to the CBC, scientists at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency have sequenced the genomes of foodborne pathogens like Salmonella, Listeria, and E. coli and use their sequences to identify what organism may have made a person sick by comparing them to samples from that patient.
"This helps food safety investigators do a much better job of identifying the food vehicles that are making people sick and also identifying sources of contamination in the food manufacturing environment," Burton Blais, from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's Ottawa lab, tells the CBC.
The CBC adds that this approach coupled with other techniques enabled inspectors to trace a 2017 Salmonella outbreak to raw, breaded chicken products and to then implement new regulations to minimize Salmonella growth to prevent illness.