Food and Drug Administration is in the process of creating a database to track foodborne bacteria outbreaks so the agency can more quickly determine outbreak origins.
FDA is collaborating with Agilent Technologies, which is a scientific research firm, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and University of California-Davis on the initiative. The current database includes data about 2,000 foodborne bacteria, including strains of E. coli, Listeria monocytogenes and salmonella. Over the next 5 years, the database will include data about 100,000 foodborne bacteria, says Curtis Allen, who is an FDA spokesperson.
The database will allow public-health officials to match up bacteria from strains in suspicious food ingredients with the strains that are included in the database. The database could help officials to trace the origin of a foodborne illness in a matter of days instead of weeks. This allows an outbreak to be contained more quickly and can reduce the number of people who are exposed to the outbreak.