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IBM Research, Mars initiate efforts to enhance food safety

FBR Staff Writer Published 30 January 2015

Scientists from IBM Research and Mars established the “Consortium for Sequencing the Food Supply Chain,” a collaborative food safety platform that will leverage advances in genomics to better understand and improve food safety.


To support this goal, the consortium will carry out largest-ever metagenomics study to categorise and understand micro-organisms and the aspects that influence their actions in a normal, safe factory environment.

Primarily, scientists will explore the genetic fingerprints of living organisms such as bacteria, fungi, or viruses and how they develop in different environments, including countertops, factories, and raw materials. This data will be used to find out how bacteria interact, which could help in viewing supply chain food safety management in completely different ways.

Mars vice president Corporate Research and Development Dave Crean said "The Consortium for Sequencing the Food Supply Chain has the potential to revolutionize food safety, providing a powerful tool to identify and address new threats on an unprecedented scale, enabling critical breakthroughs in global food safety. We are excited to be working with IBM Research on this, and look forward to welcoming additional partners in the future to help drive global innovation in genomics, food, and agriculture."

Initial focus of the consortium's research will be on selection of raw materials and factory environments, which will eventually extend to the entire food supply chain and include applications for farmers.

Members from academia, industry and government will be added to the consortium.

Image: New Consortium to undertake the largest-ever metagenomics study and unlock food safety insights across the supply chain. Photo: courtesy of Mars, Incorporated.