Let’s take a trip back to 2015. There were a good amount of foodborne illness outbreaks in that year alone. We'll recap a few.
There was E. coli O26, where 52 people got sick from eating Chipotle. “The fast casual chain was hit with six reported outbreaks, but it was the multistate e. coli outbreak which began in October that captured national attention.”
There were also “those who fell ill after eating at the Lexington, NC barbecue restaurant came from 16 North Carolina counties and five states. Laboratory testing indicated that the BBQ sample and a sample from a patient who became ill during the beginning of the outbreak were both positive for salmonella.”
Let’s not forget the salmonella poona from cucumbers. “This enormous outbreak hospitalized 165 people and four deaths were reported in Arizona, California, Oklahoma and Texas. The outbreak hit California the hardest where 232 people were sickened, but 38 states were affected in total. Investigators identified cucumbers imported from Mexico and distributed by Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce as a likely source of the infections and there were two recalls of potentially contaminated cucumbers.”
These outbreaks of foodborne illnesses could have been caused by a lot of things. What we have to consider is this: how do we move forward and make sure events like this don’t happen again in the future? A company known as Clear Labs has dedicated itself to finding the answer to that question.
“Clear Labs powers stronger food safety and quality programs with comprehensive, genomics-based testing and cutting-edge science," their website claims. "We're bringing next-generation DNA sequencing and smart food bioinformatics to food testing labs, manufacturers, and retailers. Leverage multi-target testing at higher resolution.”
Clear Labs was created in 2014 by a small group of software engineers and genomic scientists. There goal was to bring NGS (next generation sequencing) technologies to the food safety industry.
“We are helping the world’s most respected food brands and service labs ensure the quality and safety of their products," their website continues. "We are based in Menlo Park, CA.”
With new technology, Clear Labs can “verify your suppliers, ensure product integrity, and reduce risk of food adulteration and contamination.” They make sure that if you are in the agriculture industry, or deal closely with the agriculture industry, you will have the best possible quality for the products you are buying/selling. Through testing, they can ensure that data is easily interpreted through smart alerts. These alerts can warn you of “any identified plant or animal that was not listed in the ingredient list and may be an adulterant, any FDA top allergen that does not appear in the ingredient list, any declared or expected ingredient that is not present, and any species that raise hygienic, toxicity or cultural concern.” They do all of this in order to reduce food fraud.
The way they use their technology is an amazing and completely innovative way to achieve their desired goal. “Built on the foundation of a robust big data engine, our proprietary platform translates quantifiable molecular tests into actionable food data insights," they reveal. "Our database contains the largest collection of reference food genomic sequences so you get the most comprehensive and accurate results. Clear Labs delivers high-resolution, universal NGS tests that cover every potential biological adulterant. Build stronger food safety systems and guarantee ingredient and product integrity. Don’t just test, act. Clear Labs helps you strengthen your food safety and quality systems with alerts, reports, and net-new insights.”
Clear Labs is the perfect example of technology meeting opportunity. It’s entirely absurd that people in a developed country such as the United States have to worry about foodborne illnesses that they might be exposed to at a restaurant or grocery store. It’s 2017, and we have the technology to make sure all resources are being utilized in the most efficient way possible when it comes to food safety.
Clear Labs uses an abundance of different information and amasses it into one concise hub that anybody can use for their products. This is exactly the type of innovation that the 21st century should be showing. With initiatives like this in place, food safety will certainly be much more effective in the near future.