How WGS continues to change Food Safety by helping identify the root cause of outbreaks

Bob Ferguson's interesting article in Food Safety ( the changes to food safety due to the use of WGS are described. Over the past few years, the pace of recall announcements seems to be accelerating, not slowing. However, the FDA insists that food illness outbreaks get smaller and affect far fewer people. The use of WGS is allowing identifying more illnesses and more outbreaks. Many of these outbreaks involve smaller and geographically distributed illnesses that would have previously gone unreported. WGS is helping identify and link these cases, so the number of "reported" illnesses goes up. WGS also allows taking steps to solve the root causes and reduce illnesses. The FDA GenomeTrackr program was at breakeven in its second year, a "surprise finding," The FDA researchers mentioned that in their collaboration with other countries using similar programs, they have learned that these other countries are seeing the same results. In 2019, 77% of the illnesses prevented were related to Salmonella infections, and 70% were related to Listeria. The FDA researchers estimate that the GenomeTrackr database could result in billions of dollars of net benefits once complete and fully implemented.

Column-Food Safety Insights | February/March 2022 | Food Safety Magazine

This column expands on the findings of the FDA study of the economic evaluation of the GenomeTrakr whole genome sequencing (WGS) program.

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