Can Synthetic Biology Keep Your Food Safe
On a hot summer day, nothing spells refreshment quite like a slice of juicy, orange cantaloupe. But in summer 2011, cantaloupes reached plates with an unwanted addition: listeria. In the deadliest foodborne illness outbreak since 1925, cantaloupes contaminated with this bacterium killed 33 people.
Unfortunately, cantaloupes weren’t the end of the story. A year later, listeria tainted another well-loved American staple: cheese. This time the bacteria killed four people. If the contamination had been detected before the food arrived on plates, these deaths could have been prevented.
A few months from now, a Boston-based start-up company will market a test kit that will do just that: detect this deadly bacterium in the processing plant, before it reaches the grocery store. They’ve used the tools of synthetic biology to create this novel, rapid test for Listeria contamination.Go To Article