Foodborne illnesses strike almost 48 million Americans annually. Do we need better food safety testing?

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In the U.S. alone, there are an estimated 47.8 million illnesses, more than 127,000 hospitalizations and 3,000-plus deaths attributed to foodborne illness each year. Salmonella alone accounts for 1 million foodborne illnesses each year to an overall economic cost of $2.65 billion per year, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Consider this: Of the estimated 280 million tests for pathogens in 2016, salmonella was the target in approximately 120 million tests …. In 2015, a study from the American Proficiency Institute on about 18,000 testing results from 1999 to 2013 for salmonella found false negative rates between 2% and 10% and false positive rates between 2% and 6%.

If you multiply the sheer volume of tests by incidence rate of salmonella and those accuracy rates, the difference of just a few percentage points creates a compounding effect that unnecessarily increases public health risks through elevated false negative results as well as …. false positives that result in unnecessary but costly recalls.

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Fast, accurate and specific results can help identify the cause of a public health issue and cause a faster resolution …. The technology capable of achieving all three today is a cutting edge and advanced method of next-generation sequencing (NGS) testing. This method looks at specific locations of the genome that are useful for identifying specific pathogens ….

Read full, original article: Accuracy in food safety: Why good enough isn’t good enough

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