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FDA Signs Five-Year Deal with Biotech Firm for Food Safety Tests

In an effort to develop quick and efficient ways to test the food supply for deadly E. coli and Salmonella bacteria, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has signed a five-year agreement with a California-based biotechnology firm.

Life Technologies of Carlsbad, CA, plans to create rapid detection tests to find and identify foodborne pathogens using genetic material provided by the FDA, according to a July 30 statement. The company will also devise new approaches to food testing that the agency can evaluate for potential future use.

“We are excited to be entering this cooperative research and development agreement with the FDA as we have been working alongside them in one capacity or the other for over 10 years,” said Nir Nimrodi, Life Technologies vice president and general manager for food safety and animal health.

“The FDA will call on us, particularly when it comes to developing rapid detection kits. This agreement allows them to have new rapid track and trace products for rapid identification of food-borne contaminants.”

The five-year collaboration is designed to develop real-time tests to quickly detect specific strains of E. coli and Salmonella.

The tests will also genetically sequence bacteria and analyze the results for use in future tests. The company stated that the whole genome sequences will be included in the National Institutes of Health Genbank and shared with the food safety research community.

Foodborne illness outbreaks in the past few years linked to cookie dough, spinach and jalapenos have killed at least nine people and sickened hundreds. Despite congressional passage of the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act, the Obama administration just proposed associated regulations this year.

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