UK-based joint private/public sector venture Fera Science has launched its new OriGen service to allow food manufacturers to find the exact origin of foodborne bacteria.

OriGen is a process that uses whole genome sequencing (WGS) to identify the root cause of the bacterial contamination in food products, which helps manufacturers deal with the problem properly.

The new service collects samples from the product supply and processing chain to identify the precise source of a contamination using WGS.

“WGS allows for a new level of precision in dealing with bacteria entering the food supply chain."

Fera Science head of microbiology Andrew Hudson said: “Food manufacturers know how expensive a recall can be, and how much damage a contaminated product batch can do to their reputation.

“With OriGen, they’ll have the assurance that they are doing everything they can to find the root cause of the issue and the confidence that they won’t have to see another costly recall due to the same product.

“WGS allows for a new level of precision in dealing with bacteria entering the food supply chain, dramatically increasing the chances of minimising future contamination from the same source.”

The test can identify major food bacteria in the UK, such as salmonella, listeria and campylobacter.

According to a research conducted by insurance firm Lockton, the number of food recalls by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) increased by 78% last year compared to 2014.

A product recall involves huge expense to the company, which includes reputational damage, costs for cleaning, sanitising machines and production lines in the factory. Despite all of this, there is no assurance such incidents will not repeat again.