£19.2m food safety project to track foodborne pathogens

The Government awarded cash for the cross-departmental team behind the Pathogen Surveillance in Agriculture, Food and the Environment (PATH-SAFE) programme through the second round of HM Treasury’s Shared Outcomes Fund.

The project unites the Food Standards Agency (FSA), Food Standards Scotland (FSS), the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), Public Health England (PHE) and the Environment Agency. 

The funding will support the three-year project to develop a pilot national surveillance network using DNA-sequencing technology and environmental sampling to improve the detection and tracking of pathogens from farm to fork. The heart of the ‘virtual’ network will be a new database that will permit the analysis, storage and sharing of pathogen sequence and source data, collected from multiple locations across the UK by Government and public organisations.

Foodborne disease causes 2.4 million cases of illness a year

“Foodborne disease in the UK is estimated to cause around 2.4 million cases of illness a year,”​ said professor Robin May, chief scientific adviser for the FSA. “The cost of this burden on society is estimated at over £9bn a year.

“This project is designed to help safeguard UK food, agriculture and consumers by using technology to understand how pathogens and AMR spread. Tracking the source of these issues will ultimately help us to develop better control strategies to reduce illness and deaths.”

Source: foodmanufacture.co.uk