Food safety is one of the primary public health concerns in the contemporary society, where food manufacturing has expanded significantly. Understanding foodborne pathogens is thus an essential step towards identification and control of risks to food safety. Whole-genome sequencing (WGS) is increasingly gaining recognition as an approach to investigation, identification and control of foodborne microbial outbreaks. This project aims at creating awareness on WGs utilization to improve food safety outcomes and the WGS implications on public health.
|Part I: Synthesis of Relevant Literature|
|Main idea – A||Main idea – B||Main idea – C||Main idea – D|
|Brown, Dessai, McGarry and Gerner-Smidt (2019)
|The article describes the increasing use of whole-genome sequencing (WGS) for improvements in investigation, identification and control of food-borne microbial outbreaks.||The evolution of technologies for the detection and control of foodborne infections from the use of pulsed field-gel electrophoresis (PFGE) to WSG, pros and cons of different methods.||History and analytical methods associated with the WGS process and data interpretation.||Future prospects of WGS – food industry applications.|
|Science Media Center of Canada (2014)||Causes and impacts of foodborne diseases and the justification for addressing them.||Several technologies are available for controlling foodborne disease pathogens.||The working mechanism of WGS based on genetic finger-printing.||On-going research on the use of WGS for food safety improvement and the roles of other interventions such as the use of probiotics for the control of pathogenic microorganisms.|
|Kovac, den Bakker, Carroll and Wiedmann (2017)||Omnic tools such as WGS allow for the identification as well as characterization of pathogens.||The incorporation of precision frameworks into the testing procedure allows for the monitoring of supply chains to allow for the identification of aberrations that can cause food safety concerns.||Impacts of the implementation of WGS on the detection of outbreaks and clusters- enhanced understanding of genome evolution and bacterial pathology.||Effects of WGs on food security, safety and hazard characterization in food safety.|
|Ronholm, Nasheri, Petronella and Pagotto (2016)||WGS and other genome-based methods provide complete data that can be used for bacterial characterization.||Techniques of subtyping and their applications in epidemiological investigations.||Applications of WGS outside high-resolution subtyping.||The implications in WGS meganomics in culture independence and survival.|
Traditional approaches that have been used in the investigation and identification of foodborne microbes that cause public health issues such as food poisoning have been linked to various shortcomings. For instance, Brown, Dessai, McGarry and Gerner-Smidt (2019) discussed the challenges associated with methods such as pulsed field-gel electrophoresis (PFGE), which has limited capacity for molecular characterization; and next-generation sequencing (NGS), which gave way to the subsequent development of WGS as an approach to realizing better food safety outcomes. The transitions from traditional technologies to the currently applied WGS are also discussed by the Science Media Center of Canada (2014). From the explanations provided by the different articles, the impacts of WGS can be identified and their wide application in the management of food safety concerns recommended.
There is significant on-going research regarding food safety concerns across the world. Food safety is an instrumental feature of public health, and the importance of identifying and addressing risks to food safety is undeniable. The Science Media Center of Canada (2014) describes the causes of foodborne diseases such as issues of hygiene and cross-contamination. Additionally, the impacts of foodborne illnesses such as the large scale and sometimes tragic events that mostly affect the elderly and the children who have weaker immune systems are discussed (Science Media Center of Canada, 2014). Kovac, den Bakker, Carroll and Wiedmann (2017) also point out various supply chain issues such as aberrations to supply chain hygiene, which increase the risk of food borne diseases. These articles focus on explaining the effects of foodborne diseases based on the argument that those kinds of diseases are more common than can be imagined hence the need for the establishment of effective methods for investigation, identification and control of foodborne pathogens. The proposal and confirmation of WGS for this project is therefore based on the need for such effective methods.
The reviewed studies also explore the ongoing and future applications of WGS in the food industry. Kovac et al. for instance, explain the implications of precision frameworks, which improve accuracy in the investigation and identification processes. Such accuracy is recognized for its benefits in the food industry and beyond. Science Media Center of Canada (2014) explained the use of WGS in the application of probiotics for the control of pathogenic bacteria. With WGS and DNA fingerprinting, it becomes possible for the growth of good bacteria to be optimized, hence enhancing the efficiency of probiotics. Ronholm, Nasheri, Petronella and Pagotto (2016) also point out that WGS genome-based methods provide full-detailed information for bacterial characterization in the food industry. Similar advantages have been described by Brown et al. (2019), who emphasize the future applications of WGS in the food industry. Kovac et al. (2017) also describe the impacts of WGS in the improvement of food security through enhanced characterization of food safety risks. From these studies, the potential benefits of WGS for the present and future applications are clearly observable, indicating the opportunity that is available for the improvement of safety outcomes in the food industry through the use of WGS both now and in the future. Such outcomes justify the detailed study of techniques that can be used in implementing WGS in the food industry both in the large and small scale for better public health protection.
Food safety is a significant public health concern particularly due to the relatively high prevalence of foodborne diseases in the contemporary society. Unlike traditional methods of investigation and identification of food safety pathogens, WGS presents an opportunity for more detailed investigation processes, which result in more precise data and with wider applications in the food industry and beyond. Based on these potential benefits and applicability, the project focuses on creating awareness about the application of WGS for the improvement of food safety and the implications of WGS on public health in general.
Brown, E., Dessai, U., McGarry, S., & Gerner-Smidt, P. (2019). Use of whole-genome sequencing for food safety and public health in the United States. Foodborne Pathogens and Disease, 16(7), 441-450. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6653787/#:~:text=Whole%2Dgenome%20sequencing%20(WGS),in%20support%20of%20food%20safety.
Kovac, J., den Bakker, H., Carroll, L. M., Wiedmann, M. (2017). Precision food safety: A systems approach to food safety facilitated by genomics tools. TrAC Trends in Analytical Chemistry, 96, 52-61. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0165993617301176
Ronholm, J., Nasheri, N., Petronella, N., & Pagotto, F. (2016). Navigating microbiological food safety in the era of whole-genome sequencing. Clinical Microbiology Reviews, 29, 837-857. https://cmr.asm.org/content/29/4/837
Science Media Center of Canada. (2014). Improving food safety with genomics. http://www.sciencemediacentre.ca/smc/docs/SSMC-Improving%20Food%20Safety%20-%20Web.pdf
Part II: Thesis Statement & Project Outcomes
This purpose of this project is to create awareness among healthcare providers and food industry companies on the use of WGS to improve food safety through more effective investigation and identification of foodborne pathogens and their implications on public health.
- Increased awareness and willingness of healthcare providers to implement WGS for the investigation, identification and control of foodborne pathogens to attain high food safety – this outcome can be measured using before and after self-report surveys.
- Enhanced public health outcomes during foodborne disease pandemics through implementation of WGS as a control measure based on the knowledge shared.