Kristen Beck, Ph.D. Research Staff Member, Industrial and Applied Genomics
IBM Almaden Research Center, San Jose
As the challenges of protecting global food supply chains become more complex, the technical approaches being used to understand and guard against threats are becoming more sophisticated. Food safety testing is beginning to adopt new technologies such as next generation sequencing of DNA or RNA in their monitoring procedures and the cost of next generation sequencing is only decreasing with time. Together, this makes providing food safety solutions a very data-intensive problem. By surveilling the microbiome of food ingredients, we can develop methods and best practices that can be used to improve food testing standards and security of the food supply chain. As part of the Consortium for Sequencing the Food Supply Chain, we’ve utilized hundreds of terabytes of raw sequencing and derivative data to show that microbes will respond to perturbations in their environment and can be useful as an indicator of food safety hazards. By monitoring food microbiomes, we can better understand food safety hazards and quality issues that may arise in the supply chain.