Perspectives from Under the Arch….

The International Associations of Food Protection (IAFP) held its 2016 Annual Meeting and Trade Show a couple weeks ago in St. Louis, Missouri.  Like previous years, the symposia, roundtables and technical session were a blend of Academic, Regulatory and Industry leaders discussing the latest in microbial food safety and related human health issues. 

As a molecular biologist who now finds himself on the business side of product development, I was excited to see the number of talks and discussions this year around microbial ecology, microbiomes and the role that next generation sequencing and other molecular tools can play in helping the food industry understand the complex microbial communities throughout the food chain.  Like many new technologies some speakers and audience members embraced the opportunity to utilize these tools while others remained cautious even though most agreed that there is a tremendous amount of information than can be gained. The question quickly became not how much we can learn but what will the information tell us, will it lead to bigger issues, or what liability do I now have in knowing this?  It is clear that increasing acceptance will come only after the tools and techniques are refined and the results of such undertaking and the value that they can provide as tools is better understood.  Regulatory bodies like the USDA, FDA and others play an important role in easing the concerns of industry and supporting collaboration between Industry and Academia to design, conduct, and report on the utilization of these advanced tools in the food industry so that basic research can be done under representative conditions without unwarranted legal action.

St. Louis is known as the Gateway to the West, and as a symbol of opening the country for westward expansion, I hope the 2016 IAFP opens doors to future collaborations and the melding of industry, academia and regulatory agencies in embracing the study, understanding and utilization of food microbiomes as a next step in the evolution of food safety and quality.

At Agro Bioscience, we utilize internal capabilities and external partner relationships to understand microbiomes throughout the farm to fork continuum.  From on farm probiotics and environmental control products to clean labeled fermented ingredients that enhance flavor and maintain the quality of varying foods, we strive to provide our customers with eth understanding and solutions they need to reduce food waste and improve animal health.  I encourage you to visit our website and learn more about the exciting opportunities at Agro Biosciences.