Food industry identified as bioinformatics boom

By Gary Scattergood

- Last updated on GMT

DNA sequencing has become more attractive as the price has fallen
DNA sequencing has become more attractive as the price has fallen
The falling cost of DNA sequencing is leading more companies to invest in bioinformatic studies – which analyse genetic information – to aid research and development

Bioinformatics has traditionally been used in the pharmaceutical sector for drug discovery and development. However, Richard Holland, group business officer at Eagle Genomics, said major food firms were increasingly using the technology, as costs fell.

Published scientific papers show that the brewer Heineken recently worked with Delft University in the Netherlands using bioinformatics to analyse yeast genomes to develop better strains.

Genetic sequencing

And Danone funded research at Imperial College, London. This used genetic sequencing on infants’ stools to assess nutritional variations in trial participants specifically the impact of prebiotic oligosaccharides on enteral tolerance in preterm infants.

Holland, whose firm analyses the genomic data resulting from bioinformatic studies, said: “Until now, almost all of this work focused on human health, but the lower cost of genetic sequencing is making it more suitable for a range of other industries."

While the number of people directly working in this area in the food industry was still very small, Holland said even the biggest food companies had only “two or three”​ people looking at it. He predicted that it would gain greater attention over the next five years.

“It is particularly useful to assess yeasts and bacteria-based products such as yogurts and nutritionally enhanced food.

“While it is probably too early in the development of the technology for smaller firms to justify the cost now, this will certainly change over time,”​ Holland added.

‘Pretty effective but relatively slow’

He also highlighted food safety testing possibilities. The current process of taking samples to a lab and running them through diagnostics was “pretty effective but relatively slow”​, he said.

Using bioinformatic software, a food manufacturer would be able to test for a specific “dangerous”​ gene regardless of what strain it was carried in, because the test would sequence the whole population of bugs.

This could eventually be done via a laptop on the factory floor, he predicted.

Related topics: Services, Food Safety

Related news

Related products

show more

Emerging Risks: Preparedness in Food Manufacturing

Emerging Risks: Preparedness in Food Manufacturing

Risk and Resilience | 04-Sep-2017 | Technical / White Paper

This paper argues the need for organisations and value chains in the Food Manufacturing Sector to reconsider how they view risk management and resilience...

7 steps to defend your food business against risk

7 steps to defend your food business against risk

Authenticate IS | 22-May-2017 | Technical / White Paper

The next food industry scare could be just around the corner, is your business ready to defend itself?Given the complex, global nature of today’s supply...

your free 2017 calendar to start planning…

your free 2017 calendar to start planning…

William Reed Business Media | 14-Dec-2016 | Infographic

Food Manufacture Group delivers a highly qualified and established audience within the UK food and beverage manufacturing industry.   Our portfolio - including...

Related suppliers

Follow us

Featured Events

View more

Products

View more