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I read an article recently that suggests a food safety angle may also be pertinent for answering this question. With the distance between farm and fork only increasing by the day, how to be sure that the food we eat is safe?

Even as more of our food needs monitoring to ensure public health safety, the regulators tasked to do it have fewer resources to do it. Enter private enterprise such as IEH Laboratories (Institute for Environmental Health; 1). A New York Times article (2) profiles it and its founder, Mansour Samadpour. That cheap technology proliferated in recent years is a boon, especially for such food safety detectives, who use DNA tests, chemical analyses, and genetic fingerprinting to detect and measure bacteria in food, among other things. Large retailers such as the US warehouse giant Costco depend on companies like IEH to ensure safety of the food they sell.

Not all bacteria are pathogens. Food safety requires detection of only  relevant pathogens. Those are the ones IEH looks for. More details:

From http://www.iehinc.com/wp-content…

To do these tests, one needs bacteriological incubators, specialized culture media to grow these individual bacterial species, consumables such as petridishes, infrastructure such as lab space  and biosafety hoods. Also PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) machines and consumables to run PCR tests for pathogen DNA fingerprinting.

Another private food safety company profiled in the same article is DNATrek (3). They claim to be able to track the source of pathogen in food ‘within an hour’ using a new test called DNATrax which detects tracer DNA present in liquid coating applied to many types of produce after harvest or added to prepared foods, giving them a unique genetic fingerprintthat helps identify the ‘specific field or packer or distributor’.


  1. IEH Laboratories and Consulting Group
  2. The New York Times
  3. My Site