Nathan Wolfe speaks today at the annual conference of the International Association for Food Protection.
Nathan Wolfe, founder of Metabiota Inc.
After today, it won’t be a secret anymore. Nathan Wolfe, whose been called the Indiana Jones of virology and who is usually found in Asia or Africa predicting epidemics, is, through his company, Metabiota Inc., bringing his comprehensive risk analytics to the U.S. food industry. Today at the annual conference for the International Association for Food Protection in St. Louis, Metabiota personnel will be involved in three presentations that will tell the IAFP audience about what it is doing with its partner, the Branford, CT- based startup Ancera, in “revolutionizing the production of safe, affordable, high quality food by bringing integrated, near real-time diagnostics and big data analytics to the global food supply chain.” On Tuesday, Metabiota is scheduled to make a public announcement of its launch of a platform for food risk management with a food risk team “made up of industry veterans, seasoned public health experts and data scientists,” along with its partner, Ancera. Metabiota at IAFP 2016“We love Ancera,” said Robert Mann, Metabiota president and chief operating officer. While today’s presentations in St. Louis and tomorrow’s announcement will mark its entry into the food business, this is not the first time Metabiota has been involved in food safety. A little over a year ago, when Foster Farms was reporting its dramatic reductions of Salmonella prevalence for broiler chickens, FF’s Robert O’Connor heaped praise on Metabiota, saying, “They have shown me some powerful tools for upping our game in terms of data analysis.” At the time, Livingston, CA-based Foster Farms was staging its comeback from two nasty years of dealing with a Salmonella Heidelberg outbreak that had sickened 600 people in 29 states and Puerto Rico. “Our deep expertise in advanced analytics is highly applicable for the food industry, as we deliver greater insight into the supply chain, while decreasing risk and delivering improvements in performance across all components of a company’s operation,” Mann said. “We are investing in this breakthrough technology and have assembled an impressive team that will help improve food safety and protect global health.” Mann told Food Safety News that Metabiota has invested in and partnered with Ancera because it provides “near real-time diagnostics” to optimize performance and safety for the global food supply chain. Ancera makes Piper disposable cartridges, which are about the size of a cell phone and permit someone not trained in biology to conduct precise tests of food at various points in the supply chain. It is part of its system to detect contaminants faster than other options and produce actionable data. Metabiota, which Wolfe founded eight-and-half years ago, is based in San Francisco, but has an “international footprint” in 30 counties, including China, Canada, Sierra Leone, Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. While it’s won awards and funding for tracking emerging epidemics, it did come in for criticism during the 2014 Ebola outbreak, mostly over logistics of running a lab in Sierra Leone with Tulane University. (To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)