Dubai to adopt genome sequencing to track food poisoning
Dubai - Sequencing tests will see the details of the bacteria and track its source.
The Dubai labs will collaborate with regional test centres to apply genome sequencing for more accurate tracking of food poisoning outbreaks, officials announced on Sunday.
During the upcoming 12th Dubai International Food Safety Conference, taking place from October 29 to 31, Dubai Municipality will collaborate with labs of Oman, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain to expand their database of genomes for accurate detection of food poisoning sources.
Bobby Krishna, food safety specialist at the municipality, said: "Sequencing tests will see the details of the bacteria and track its source. So for example, if we have salmonella behind an outbreak and we know the reason is eggs, genome sequencing will allow us to track the country where the eggs have come from." However, to track the source, Krishna said an elaborate database is needed. "We will need to take the sequence of the bacteria and compare it with our databases. The more countries we have the database from, the stronger are our results." He added that the municipality currently aims to get different labs together to establish a network of databases.
This year's conference under the theme 'Global Food Regulatory Tends' will see over 60 experts from 23 countries coming together to address food fraud and safety and possibilities to harmonise international food regulations.
The conference will specifically highlight safe food storage and transport in the run up to Expo 2020.
Khalid Sharif Al Awadhi, executive director of the Dubai Municipality for Environment, Health and Safety Sector, said: "Experts will present several studies and working papers that deal mainly with how to harmonise laws and procedures related to food in a way that ensures the safety of food without adversely affecting its sustainability and the smooth flow of trade between countries."
This year's conference will also witness participation of the US-based National Environmental Health Association, which will participate in a workshop on food sector. It will address the use of food additives, reduced oxygen packing and other food preparation processes.
Last year's conference witnessed the launch of Food Watch App, to allow the civic body to trace the food's journey from 'farm to fork' and monitor over 20,000 food establishments. In the next three years, a digital integrated system will cover all food establishments and hotels around Dubai to ensure food safety for residents, while allowing the municipality to monitor companies and suppliers.