The University of California, Davis is nearly three years into taking on a big task: “sequencing the genomes of 100,000 bacteria and viruses that cause serious foodborne illnesses in people around the world.” The large undertaking is meant to provide some additional inroads into taking on food safety, using genetic material to track and understand pathogens in the food supply.
In a recent article, Marketwatch explains, the: “100K Foodborne Pathogen Genome Project” will result in a public database used “to help speed the identification of bacteria responsible for foodborne outbreaks and significantly reduce the typical public health response time to outbreaks from weeks to days using next-generation sequencing platforms.”
The director of the project, Professor Bart Weimer explains that the ability to sequence the genetic data of these disease-causing bacteria will provide information to help make “diagnostic tests quicker, more reliable, more accurate and more cost-effective.” Begun in 2012, the project is slated to last five years. For more insight on 100K Project, you can click here.
With a great deal of attention coming from the media, governmental agencies, and others, it is safe to say that we live in a different world of food safety when compared to previous decades. The coverage and attention paid to outbreaks connected to sprouts, spinach, cantaloupe, peanuts, and other goods/products have created a new breed of consumer, at the very least aware of the risks that are out there. In an increasingly interconnected world, numerous audiences may be aware of these events/discussions, including children. Keep in mind that kids are very much the product of their surroundings, so it should be no shock that some children ask questions or are concerned about food safety.
In 2008, Christine Taylor-Butler published a text aimed at kids called Food Safety. For the curious child, the book explores practical ways to keep healthy and safe. For instance, kids learn that you should dump foods like hot dogs and coleslaw at your family barbecue if they have been sitting out for more than two hours. Discussions on hand-washing, governmental regulatory agencies, and even introductions to bacteria like E.coli are all included.
Though a great resource for kids, adults may also find it interesting and enlightening to check out the text. You might even pick up some good insights that you may not have had before. For instance, did you know you should not defrost meat in the sink or on the counter, but should instead do it in the fridge? Were you aware that you should put cooked foods in the refrigerator as soon as you are done with them, even if they are still hot? (Both of these tactics help prevent food from going into the “danger zone” where bacteria can grow and multiply.) Interesting, huh? Kids of all ages can protect themselves and loved-ones by knowing a bit about food safety. To learn more about the book and food safety, you can click here.