On the Environmental Trail of Food Pathogens

Cornell microbiologists are using big datasets to predict where the next outbreak of deadly food pathogens will be. To collect information for this, researchers are testing hundreds of bacterial samples from farms and forests across upstate New York to help identify locations that favor the bacteria. Traces of the lethal listeria bacterium have been found in about 33 percent of the samples taken from New York’s natural environments, and 34 percent of those taken from produce farms. Their next step is to combine large public datasets (digitized maps, weather data, etc.) with lab and testing data to minimize the presence of these bacteria strains, and ultimately improve food safety and quality.

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