Use of Whole Genome Sequence Analysis To Improve Food Safety and Public Health
The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), with participation from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), and other stakeholders is hosting a public meeting to discuss FSIS' and other agencies' practices and plans for collecting and analyzing whole genome sequence (WGS) data of bacteria isolated from official samples, as well as the state of the science and other issues surrounding this technology. WGS analyses can determine sequence relatedness between bacterial isolates with higher resolution than other analytical methods, including pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), FSIS' current method of characterizing bacteria. In addition, WGS analyses can characterize genes and other features of bacterial genomes. Currently, FSIS, local, State, and Federal public health and regulatory partners submit WGS data to a Federal public database, readily accessible to Federal and state partners, and other stakeholders, including regulated industry and consumers. Using this common database, Federal food safety partners can share information and collaborate on issues related to food safety and public health. FSIS intends to analyze WGS data using thoroughly vetted and scientifically accepted procedures and standards, along with epidemiological information and industry production and distribution records on amenable product, to carry out its public health mission. Inclusion of WGS analyses in decision-making will enhance foodborne outbreak investigations, as well as general decisions related to the use of data from routine verification sampling of establishments under FSIS jurisdiction. Industry, interested individuals, organizations, and other stakeholders are invited to participate in the meeting and comment on FSIS approaches for using WGS data within a regulatory framework.