The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is partnering with Genome Canada and Alberta Innovates Bio Solutions for the project, which will map the genome of the listeria bacteria to allow the development of more rapid testing. This could improve both the accuracy and speed of testing, allowing the CFIA to identify contaminated food.
Current test methods take at least five days, leaving the food system more vulnerable to the food-borne pathogen, which is capable of surviving freezing, dehydration and pasteurisation.
Announcing the project, Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said: “The Harper Government is committed to improving Canada’s already robust food safety system. Through investment in science and innovation, we are giving industry the opportunity to better identify and reduce risks for consumers, meaning safer food for Canadian families.”
Genome Canada and CFIA have invested $250,000 each in the 18-month project, while Alberta Innovates Bio Solutions has invested $100,000.
Pierre Meulien, president and CEO of Genome Canada, said: “Genomics research will bring a new level of advanced innovation and technology to food safety. We expect to provide the means to enable both the food industry and food regulators to respond swiftly to food safety investigations by identifying a potentially dangerous food contaminant as quickly as possible to prevent or limit the impact of an outbreak.”
Stan Blade, CEO of Alberta Innovates Bio Solutions, added: “While Canada and Alberta have an excellent reputation for food safety, we strive for continuous improvements through the application of science and innovation. We are pleased to support a programme that will further our knowledge about listeria and enhance Canada’s reputation as a preferred supplier of safe food products.”