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Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS)

Foodborne pathogens are a serious topic for the food industry, with Campylobacter jejuni topping the list of over 280,000 reported cases of infection in the UK alone last year. However with recent scientific advancements in rapid, high throughput DNA sequencing, this has revolutionised the study of biology as these technologies are capable of rapidly producing draft-quality genome sequences of the bacteria responsible for important foodborne diseases (including examples like Salmonella enterica, Listeria monocytogenes and Campylobacter jejuni).

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Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) technologies have a range of applications, including the sequencing of microbial genomes and culture-free identification of microbial communities. The implications of this for the food industry range from source tracking of bacterial contaminants have now become a reality with our new traceback service - OriGen

Our OriGen service can extract total DNA from the bacterial culture, sequence this in a massively parallel manner which is then bioinformatically interpreted. So when sequence data is compared to similar data, it becomes possible to rapidly detect outbreaks of foodborne disease at an early stage, when they are small and not geographically clustered so outbreaks can also be traced back to their source.

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As food safety continues to grow in importance within the consumers mind, you need full visibility across all aspects of your supply chain. Fera have the experience to share valuable insights & opportunities for you to capitalise on any gaps in your quality system. Fera has taken centre stage in contributing large amounts of open access WGS data. Through contributing to this method and comparing datasets it is possible to distinguish between bacterial strains and to trace contamination within a food business back to an individual faulty process or piece of equipment.

For example, a study of single DNA base pair differences within and between subtypes of L. monocytogenes isolated from a number of delicatessens was able to distinguish between long-term persistence within a deli and repeated introduction from external sources.

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This pioneering technology can deliver invaluable information for a food business trying to deal with a long term contamination problem and or a recent outbreak. OriGen can aid in these investigations to avoid those costly recalls, reducing waste and saving money.

All investigators know traceback is laborious. From the very beginning until the end, scientific methods and investigative skills must be harnessed to identify the source of the outbreak and then bringing new knowledge and understanding that can be used to prevent further outbreaks. When tracing foods to their origins, the traceback process is vital in understanding and identifying the food carrying the disease. With the ground breaking scientific development of the use of Whole Genome Seqeuncing (WGS) for source tracking in a factory environment, it is now widely being used in the fight against foodborne illness with food sources.


If you have questions about foodborne pathogen detection, product recall, or the regulatory environment; sometimes it requires another experienced person or team to help pull things together and move them ahead. Fera's consultancy service is made up of senior scientists who have broad and deep experience in the food industry that we can bring to bear on your research project which goes beyond analysis and scientific expertise.

Contact Us

To speak with us about this service, or for any other services, please contact the Customer Service Group on +44 (0)300 100 0323 or e-mail us

OriGen - New Traceback Service

A new and exciting food contamination assessment service is now available. OriGen will help to trace the problem back to its source and provide you with the tools to prevent future product recalls as a result of contamination – putting you back in control.

  • Immediately following a notification by your in-house testing team or a report of a contamination outbreak, contact Fera, we’ll send you a kit with instructions
  • Using state of the art Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) technology, we can distinguish the different pathogen strains from around the facility
  • The results of our WGS analysis will then be interpreted along with information about where the culture was obtained from, to suggest sources and routes of contamination

Telephone: +44 (0)300 100 0323

Email: Contact Us

Join Us at 7th Food Sure (Safety & Quality Summit) 22-24 May 2017

The Food Sure agenda covers the whole spectrum of safety and quality in the food and beverage industry. From cutting edge microbial pathogen studies to practical implementation of process controls and risk assessments. 7th Annual FOOD SURE Safety & Quality Summit

OriGen - Whole Genome Sequencing

Public trust has declined in the wake of recent product contaminations and recalls. High-profile recalls of flour, salad leaves and others may prompt consumers to question the safety of the food they are buying.

Download our recent white paper and presentation on the new ground breaking WGS (whole genome sequencing) application service that can be used to traceback the source of contamination in a product recall crisis. click here

Download our latest white paper on NIAS

Our teams often work in other commercial industry partners to bring new ideas and innovation to the forefront and our latest white paper considers the 'Safety Assessment of Food Contact Materials' and describes the issues of chemicals migrating into food from packaging materials, the need to assess the safety of those chemicals that migrate, and the role that high-resolution mass spectrometry has to play in the related analysis.

To download the white paper click here

Join us at BFR 2017

The 'International Symposium on Flame Retardants' is a series of conferences on safety aspects of flame retardants.

Bringing together international experts from industry, governments and academia latest research will be shared and evaluated, in an effort to propose new measures to reduce risk from the use of flame retardants.

Register your interest here: